Services for Edward Wayne Smith, 88, former fire chief of Gray Army Airfield, will be 10:30 a.m. Sept. 18 at the First United Methodist Church of Killeen, 3501 E. Elms Road, with pastor Alan McGrath officiating.
Mr. Smith died Sept. 14, 2018, in a Temple hospital. He was born in Miami, Florida.
He was the son of Viola and John Smith and attended school in Winter Haven, Florida. He joined the Army at age 16, although he claimed to be 17.
He will be buried in the Killeen Cemetery in the part that was moved from Sugarloaf when Camp Hood was being built.
Graves were purchased for the Kinsey family along with other empty plots. Ed’s mother-in-law, Alline Sanderford, said “I knew Mama would be pleased to have her family ancestors the Kinseys nearby in Killeen. She went to the meeting to ensure the family would all be together in the same area in the Killeen Cemetery.
Ed turned 16 in 1948. He knew from working hard in fishing lines laid out in Lake Eloise and the daily fish catch that he must prepare himself for the future. So getting mechanic training in the Army seemed like a good choice, and in early 1947, he told the Army he was 17, not 16, so that he could get an education.
His mechanic school was in Georgia, and that certificate qualified him as a private and a train trip to Killeen in the middle of the night on a 2.5-ton open-backed truck. He was stationed at the 124th Ordnance Company B at Camp Hood. This was between the enlistment time after WWII and the Korean War. It was for 18 months.
He met some others and learned 2nd Armored Division needed a band member that could play a big drum and big horn. Receiving the temporary transfer, a GI said, “go to church with me tonight and meet some pretty girls.” Ed even wore a borrowed set of clothes belonging to a friend because his hadn’t washed yet after the trip to Texas. He met his future wife that night, the love of his life, Mary Lou Sanderford.
Killeen was home, except for a short time in Winter Haven, Florida, after he was discharged. The couple’s first home was bought in Castle Heights (Killeen).
Ed worked many jobs. Getting established, he was a salesman for many places: Furniture Mart, Fergus Ford, Harry’s Eclectic, Killeen Paint and Paper, and other temporary jobs on Fort Hood, including one for three months at the fire department in Killeen. This helped him get his permanent fireman job at Fort Hood. He also worked for both the Yellow and Red Cab Companies.
Once, on a trip to Dallas for the cab company, he heard about a job in Colorado working in the mines at Climax, Colorado. His family lived in company housing in nearby Timberline. It was not long before he moved from being a train loader to an engineer. The entire family was ready to come home after four years to a house on Dean Street bought with the GI Bill.
Trips began to see kinfolks in Florida. When the children came along, Betty Ann Gregory, Daniel Wayne Smith, Robert David Smith, Bonnie Lou Quinn and Dennis Edward Smith; it was usually the first two weeks school was out. Soon, Ed was hired at by the Fort Hood Fire Department, and that led to a permanent fireman job. Later, before retirement, he became the fire chief at Gray Army Airfield.
Ed bought and managed rental houses and apartments. He rehabbed a yellow bus that made a Rocky Mountain National Park trip, plus trips to Nashville.
They also made a trip to Washington, D.C., to see his cousins Betty and Peggy Rainwater, who worked for President Bill Clinton. Ed also rehabbed an ugly Army van into a modern RV.
The couple also enjoyed a cruise to Alaska and flew to Hawaii.
Edward Smith is survived by his wife, children and lots of cousins, special sister-in-laws Helen Sanderford and June Sanderford, sister Katherine O’Berry of Winter Haven, Florida; 10 grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren.