MORTON - Bernard Joseph Smith, 81, of Morton passed away peacefully in his sleep at 5:08 a.m. Sunday, March 16, 2014, at OSF Richard L. Owens Hospice Home, with his beloved wife of 53 years, Mary Ellen (Konrath), and children by his bedside.
He was the son of Albert and Lorene (Johanning) Smith of Salisbury, Mo., and the beloved father to Timothy (Julie) Smith of Barrington, Mary Kay Houlihan of Barrington, Stephen (Tracy) Smith of Milwaukee and Matthew (Siobhan) Smith of Dunlap. He is survived by nine grandchildren and his brother, Donald (Margaret) Smith of St. Louis.
He shared the same birthday, July 7, with his two brothers, born in consecutive years 1932 to 1934 (a Ripley's Believe It or Not record at the time). Bernie entered life under a good sign.
Bernie was preceded in death by his infant son, Michael Joseph; and an infant brother.
He served with the United States Army during the Korean War.
He enjoyed a 42-year career with Caterpillar Inc., progressing through various roles in the marketing department. He was instrumental in establishing the Caterpillar involvement in NASCAR. Bernie also played key roles in creating a historical appreciation of Caterpillar machinery, starting with the Antique Caterpillar Machinery Owners Club.
He shared much of this passion for marketing and business with Junior Achievement USA. Bernie was dedicated to volunteerism throughout his life. He was a passionate supporter of the Right to Life movement, serving 25 years on the board of directors of the Family Resource Center in Peoria. He gave generously of his time to various committees at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Morton, the Morton Knights of Columbus, Diocesan Religious Support Group and the Boy Scouts of America.
He loved traveling with his wife to visit grandchildren, friends and relatives around the country. He also embraced new ideas, with a constant desire to learn. Destinations around the world almost always included an Elderhostel educational experience. Bernie's passions included gardening, art and carding scores on the golf course that would make a CPA blush. Basketball fans of Illinois, Bradley and Mizzou can take comfort in knowing they now have another Super Fan in Heaven making the ball bounce the right way.
A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 19, 2014, at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Morton, with Fr. Mark DeSutter officiating. Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 18, 2014, at Knapp-Johnson Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Morton, with a Rosary service following. Further visitation will be from 9 to 9:45 a.m. Wednesday at the church. Burial will be at Resurrection Cemetery in Peoria, where military services will be conducted.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Family Resources Center, Blessed Sacrament Parish or OSF Richard L. Owens Hospice Home in recognition for their excellent care.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.knappjohnson.com.