Volney H. Smith

June 11, 1928November 16, 2020

Volney Hammers Smith, 92, of Harlan, Iowa, and formerly of Waukee and West Des Moines, won his battle over life on Monday, November 16, 2020, at Myrtue Medical Center in Harlan after contracting COVID 19.

Volney was born on June 11, 1928 in Ames, Iowa, the son of Claude Wallace Smith and Frances Marion Hammers Smith Kemp. His parents divorced at a young age and he grew up on his grandfather’s farm in Malvern, Iowa. He was valedictorian of the Malvern High School Class of 1945 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Engineering in 1949, from Iowa State College, now Iowa State University.

In 1950, Volney enlisted in the US Air Force, where he served until his retirement from the Air Force Reserve in 1973. He attained the rank of Major and was the recipient of the Air Force Commendation medal. Following his tour of active duty, Volney began his extensive career with the Soil Conservation Service, where he retired in 1988 as the Assistant State Conservation Engineer.

Volney was united in marriage to Margaret Wilma Young in Des Moines on April 3, 1954 and they were blessed with three children. Upon retirement, they enjoyed traveling and were able to explore all 50 of the United States.

He was actively involved in Johnston Evangelical Free Church and Grace Baptist Church. His hobbies were: genealogy, gardening, reading, watching Jeopardy!, and traveling, He thrived on maintaining personal relationships with friends and family, always ready to attend special events; especially for his grandchildren.

Left to cherish his memory are his children: Kathryn Smith of Des Moines, Paul (Gina) Smith of Harlan, Neal (Cindy) Smith of Harlan; grandchildren: Jason Smith of Chicago, IL, Alissa Smith of South Hadley, MA, Austin Smith of Ankeny, IA, and Grant Smith of New London, CT; sister-in-law: Sandra Kemp of Council Bluffs, IA; brother-in-law: Philip Pleshek of Concord, CA; numerous nieces, nephews, and friends. He was welcomed at heaven’s gate by wife Margaret; brothers: Maxwell Smith, Claude Smith, Jr., Merrill Smith and Jon Kemp.



  • Private Family Burial Service

    Saturday, November 21, 2020


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Dondino and Donna Melchiorre

November 23, 2020

Volney was a special friend who had the ability to make you feel as if you had known him forever. Donna and I loved getting to know Volney in the short time we spent with him. He made both of us feel like good friends. His stories were wonderful, his smile, laughter and heart were kind and loving to be around. He made this world a better place through his love of God, family and friends. We think of him often and will cherish our memories of him always. I know he will be greatly missed, but I always know Heaven is getting a wonderful soul. Love You Volney, Dondino and Donna

Ginny Powers

November 20, 2020

Volney will always be remember as a gentle person with a great big heart in the YEWS, Inc in Des Moines, IA . Many memories that I will always take with me. Sorry for your loss.


Mike Rowley

November 18, 2020

Volney was a tremendous contributing member of the Iowa Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. His dedication and volunteerism helped keep the organization alive.
He was a true gentleman and friend.

Mike Rowley

Mike Kenline

November 18, 2020

So sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing. He, you and the family will be in our thoughts and prayers. I have many great memories of your your Dad and Mom, from the first time they walked into my open house looking for a townhome, your Mom had such a great smile.
Sincerely, Mike & Karen Kenline

Gary and Dee Brandt

November 18, 2020

RIP Volney Smith
We lost a dear friend who went to be with Jesus yesterday. He was such a wonderful man, a devoted Christian, a member of our church, and will be missed so much. We enjoyed our Senior coffees at Grace Baptist Church, and we loved visiting with him at church. Gary always went across the aisle and church and shook hands with him and got the biggest smile, before church service started and it was so special Grace Baptist lost a wonderful member. Our prayers and thoughts are with the family, and loved ones. God bless you all.

Phyllis Mendenhall

November 17, 2020

I had the pleasure of not only working with Volney at Elm Crest, we also shared Sunday School classes together. at Grace Baptist Church. Volney was very actively involved in activities and church services at Elm Crest and especially loved to play the activities version of Jeopardy. He was a very gentle man and I must say even though he was in pain, he had a smile on his face and determination to get better and walk. My heart goes out to you, his family. saddened to hear of his passing. Praying for all of you.

Susan Smith

November 17, 2020

My husband and I met Volney in 2005 at Johnston Evangelical Free Church. We were part of the mission trip to Bogalusa, La. We became fast friends. We met his children and Kathryn and I became great friends. Volney invited us to join Joy Group (Just Older Youth) at Johnston E. Free. We enjoyed many church activities with Volney . May his "Home Going" be a happy event as he gathers with, Jesus his Savior, and with his loved ones.
Dick and Sue Smith

Dick Lyford

November 17, 2020

I met Volney and Margaret in the 1980s and enjoyed my acquaintance for years. It turned out Volney had worked with my great uncle in the soil conservation service and his niece was a high school classmate of my wife and me. I met their children and became friends with them as well. I can't express my sadness on his passing. I have great memories of him and will cherish them. Dick Lyford


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