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Van R. Smith

1945 - 2012 Obituary Condolences
Van R. Smith Obituary
Van Smith

Van R. Smith, of Belleville, Ill., born Feb. 6, 1945, in Avon, Ill., passed away suddenly Thursday, May 24, 2012, at Memorial Hospital in Belleville, Ill.

Van's early life was centered around the love of athletics and frolics of free-spirited friends in Wood River, Ill. He attended elementary school as a Wood River Oiler and moved to Galesburg, Ill., as a sophomore. In high school Van was heavily involved in baseball, basketball and various choirs. He was an accomplished singer as well as an athlete and took great pride in having multiple interests.

Van was recruited to play baseball and basketball at the University of Houston where he earned a BS degree in business from the University of Houston. His work ethic flourished as Van was a student, an influential southpaw on the baseball team and a dedicated employee of various jobs to make ends meet.

He married Ann, his high school sweetheart, during this time. Van was blessed beyond measure for the relationship that he shared with his wife Ann. The love, dedication and humor that they displayed were a pleasure for us all to witness and grew richer with time, years and shared history.

Van had a tender spot and respect for his parents, and upon graduation, Van and Ann began their married life in Belleville, Ill., working alongside his parents in the Mister Donut business. For 23 years Van owned, managed and served his treats that helped expand all of the waistlines in St. Clair County. The hours in the donut business allowed for a dual career and time for his passion, which was to be involved in the baseball world. Van coached baseball at the collegiate level at both McKendree and Southwestern Illinois College. Although one might think he did this all for the crack of the bat, the smell of the glove or the thrill of competition, but for Van it was all for his tremendous love of people and wanting to impact lives, especially in the name of Christ.

In 1991, Van accepted a position as a major league scout with the San Diego Padres Baseball Club. He scouted far and wide, traversing the U.S. and Latin America. It is noteworthy to mention that he spent his entire professional scouting career with one organization. His loyalty and dedication were unwavering. Van was tireless in his quest for talent and also in his labor of love, which was supporting his team and those that touched and cared for it, all with a tremendous amount of selflessness.

Van was a man of integrity and enjoyed serving others. He was involved in various board positions in the community, such as the Harmony Emge School District 175, president, Southwestern Illinois College Board of Trustees and his church session board.

Van was inducted into the McKendree College Sports Hall of Fame in 2003. He was named the San Diego Padres Scout of the Year in 2001, and was elected to the Midwestern Scouts Hall of Fame. While all of these are honorable, without a doubt he would say that his greatest induction would be of entering the Kingdom of Heaven. His team and uniform are that of Jesus Christ, whom he dedicated his life and heart.

Van was preceded in death by his father, Dean Smith; his mother, Verna June Smith; and his granddaughter in infancy, Gabrielle Kirchoff.

Surviving are his wife, Ann; his four children, Christine (Ben) Kirchoff of O'Fallon, Ill., Tad (Trista) Smith of Heathrow, Fla., Robin (Jeff) Ballenger of Swansea, Ill., and Lindsey (fiance, Stan Simek) Smith of Millstadt, Ill.; six grandchildren, Drew and Sydney Kirchoff, Tate, Sage and Sawyer Smith, and Brandt Ballenger; his sister, Deanna Smith; and numerous nieces and nephews.

It is no mere chance that our father... father to all who knew him, works for the Padres. He was the ultimate Padre. Van, job well done, thy good and faithful servant!

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the First United Presbyterian Church Building Fund.

Funeral: A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 27, 2012, at the First United Presbyterian Church, 1303 Royal Heights Road, Belleville, Ill., with the Rev. Conley Zomermaand officiating.

Published in Belleville News-Democrat on May 26, 2012
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