OBITUARY

Rear Admiral Vernon C. Smith

November 6, 1929August 10, 2018
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Rear Admiral and Reverend Vernon Charles Smith, 88, entered into the presence of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ on August 10, 2018. Vern was born on November 6, 1929, to Elwood & Grace Smith, in Bay City, Michigan. He was one of 12 children growing up on a small farm in Midland. It was here that he met Kathryn St. Louis, who in 7th grade became his on again off again sweetheart. The two married in November 1950. He entered the Navy in 1947 and was commissioned in 1956 after graduating from the Seaman – to – Admiral program, despite needing a medical waiver to be accepted due to his height. He served at sea on the USS Rankin, USS Ault, and commanded the USS Rockville, USS Avenge, USS Washoe County, USS Harlan County and the USS Mount Whitney. He also served as Commander Amphibious Squadron Six / Commander US Amphibious Forces Sixth Fleet, and as Commander Amphibious Group One / Commander Amphibious Forces US Seventh Fleet. He served ashore on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations, the Defense Communications Agency and the Naval Telecommunications Command. His last assignment was as Vice Chief of Naval Education and Training in Pensacola, Florida. His personal awards include the Legion of Merit (6 awards), the Bronze Star Medal with Combat V (3 awards), Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal and Good Conduct Medal (2 awards) as well as the National Order of the Cedar from the Lebanese government. In his own words, his naval career was “a wonderful experience from a kid who could not swim to an Admiral in charge of the whole thing.” After retiring from the Navy in 1989, Vern went to work as Vice President of MILCOM Systems for 4 years and then he retired for good. In 1992, he purchased land on the James River and started building his dream cabin. This was a place of peace and gratification for Vern. In May of 2007, Vern joined a long line of ministers in his family and graduated from Liberty University Bible Institute. He was ordained at SonRise Christian Church by his son Pastor Steven Smith Sr. Vern ran the Seniors Ministry at SonRise and will be remembered for his weekly benedictions that became a favorite for the congregation. Vern leaves behind a legacy of faith, family and love. He is survived by his wife of nearly 68 years, Kathryn, their three children, Michael (Cheryl), Cathy Bandy and Steve (Cathy). He also leaves behind 9 adult grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren. Vern loved several things in life – his bird dog Sam, his garden, teaching others, spending time with family and most of all his wife Kathryn. A Celebration of Vern’s Life will be held at SonRise Christian Church, 600 Independence Blvd. Va Beach, VA 23462, on Saturday, September 8, 2018 at 11:00 am, with a reception to follow. Pastor Steven Smith Sr. will officiate. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to SonRise Christian Church, The Smith Memorial Fund. Arrangements by Kellum Funeral Home.

Services

  • Celebration of Life Saturday, September 8, 2018
REMEMBERING

Rear Admiral Vernon C. Smith

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Patricia Riggs

September 1, 2018

My husband Don and I met Admiral and Kathryn while at the Army War College, in 1974. Although Don was a Naval Aviator and Vern a Surface Warfare Officer, they hit it off right away (as did Kathryn and I) and became forever friends. Over the years we have kept in touch, (spending New Years Eve together when living in the same area and calling each other on New Year's eve when we could not be together (one always trying to outdo the other at being the first to call.) Admiral Smith was a very kind and caring man. He will always hold a special place in our hearts. We will miss his humor, our visits with him and Kathryn over the years. (Don especially enjoyed the times spent with Vern at the cabin overlooking the river. He always enjoyed Vern's hobo potatoes.) Am sure he is not only fishing like previously mentioned but also bird hunting with that crazy and wild bird dog, Sam.
Admiral Smith was a faithful husband and servant of God. He would not have us mourn over him but rejoice that he is ever present with his Lord and Savior. We pray for God's strength, comfort and peace for Kathryn and the family now and for the days to come.

Goldie Mathews

August 30, 2018

I truly feel like I knew this incredible man thru the many amazing stories told to me by his son, Steve Smith not only my former boss but friend! God bless you all and celebrate the mighty kingdom he has gone to and will never be forgotten on earth!

Vicki Wilson

August 29, 2018

Pastor Vern was such a loving and caring man. The love of his life was always beside him at church and forever in his heart. His love for the Lord and caring for others is a loving legacy. I am so honored to have known you Admiral. Heaven has another jewel in the presence of our Lord and Savior. Play a round of golf with Scott when you meet him❤️

Jackie Roberts

August 14, 2018

Pastor Vern was a great inspiration to me as an x navy wife.I loved his stories about his Naval career.He always had something funny to add to his stories. I admired him as an retired Naval officer,a loving husband to Kathreen,a father to our awesome Pastor Steve,a grandfather to Chelsea, Stephanie and Stevie,a grandfather to Harper and Pierson and above all a man who loved Jesus Christ our Savior.Thank you Pastor Vern for spreading your love for Jesus to me.I will miss you dearly.I will see you in heaven one day.God bless your family in the great time of sadness.love, Jackie Roberts

Kathy Hershy

August 14, 2018

Vern was an Accomplished Admiral, a Caring Pastor, a Loving Husband, a Proud Father/Grandfather and a Beautiful Spirit with a Heart that wanted to connect with others so he could help them get connected to the Lord. Our loss is truly Heaven’s gain and I hope he is up there “fishing with Jesus...” Peace and Blessings to the whole Smith Family...
Love in Christ, Kathy

Elizabeth Shivers

August 13, 2018

I met pastor Vern when I chose this church. his son steve is the pastor every thanksgiving I would make him. Homemade pecan cinnamon rolls him an his wife Catherine loved them so much made my heart shine to know it made them happy going to miss you

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Biography

Rear Admiral and Reverend Vernon Charles Smith, 88, entered into the presence of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ on August 10, 2018.

Vern was born on November 6, 1929, to Elwood & Grace Smith, in Bay City, Michigan. He was one of 12 children growing up on a small farm in Midland. It was here that he met Kathryn St. Louis, who in 7th grade became his on again off again sweetheart. The two married in November 1950.

He entered the Navy in 1947 and was commissioned in 1956 after graduating from the Seaman – to – Admiral program, despite needing a medical waiver to be accepted due to his height.

He served at sea on the USS Rankin, USS Ault, and commanded the USS Rockville, USS Avenge, USS Washoe County, USS Harlan County and the USS Mount Whitney.

He also served as Commander Amphibious Squadron Six / Commander US Amphibious Forces Sixth Fleet, and as Commander Amphibious Group One / Commander Amphibious Forces US Seventh Fleet.

He served ashore on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations, the Defense Communications Agency and the Naval Telecommunications Command.

His last assignment was as Vice Chief of Naval Education and Training in Pensacola, Florida.

His personal awards include the Legion of Merit (6 awards), the Bronze Star Medal with Combat V (3 awards), Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal and Good Conduct Medal (2 awards) as well as the National Order of the Cedar from the Lebanese government.

In his own words, his naval career was “a wonderful experience from a kid who could not swim to an Admiral in charge of the whole thing.”

After retiring from the Navy in 1989, Vern went to work as Vice President of MILCOM Systems for 4 years and then he retired for good.

In 1992, he purchased land on the James River and started building his dream cabin. This was a place of peace and gratification for Vern.

In May of 2007, Vern joined a long line of ministers in his family and graduated from Liberty University Bible Institute. He was ordained at SonRise Christian Church by his son Pastor Steven Smith Sr. Vern ran the Seniors Ministry at SonRise and will be remembered for his weekly benedictions that became a favorite for the congregation.

Vern leaves behind a legacy of faith, family and love. He is survived by his wife of nearly 68 years, Kathryn, their three children, Michael (Cheryl), Cathy Bandy and Steve (Cathy). He also leaves behind 9 adult grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren.

Vern loved several things in life – his bird dog Sam, his garden, teaching others, spending time with family and most of all his wife Kathryn.

A Celebration of Vern’s Life will be held at SonRise Christian Church, 600 Independence Blvd. Va Beach, VA 23462, on Saturday, September 8, 2018 at 11:00 am, with a reception to follow. Pastor Steven Smith Sr. will officiate. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to SonRise Christian Church, The Smith Memorial Fund.

Arrangements by Kellum Funeral Home.