William “Bill” Edward Smith, 84, Colorado Springs, Colo., and formerly of Akron, died on Dec. 19, 2020, in Colorado Springs, Colo.
He was born to Ernest and Esther Smith in a house next to the old grade school in Akron on Nov. 11, 1936 (Veterans Day).
Bill graduated from Akron High School in 1954, enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, and while at home on leave, married Carol Ann Smith in 1956. She preceded him in death on Feb. 22, 1997.
He discharged from the Air Force and attended Ball State University, graduating in 1965.
Upon graduation, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant and retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1983. Bill had a distinguished military career with many accomplishments, including serving as a Minuteman missile combat crew commander.
He and his deputy (long-term friend Elbert Johnson) were the first crew in the Air Force to be qualified as mission-ready directly from initial training. They were also selected to launch a missile as an operational test. In addition, Bill was presented with the Crewmember Excellence Award by the command at 15th Air Force, an honor awarded to approximately the top 15% of the crew force.
Upon retirement from the military, he had a second career at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs as a credentials examiner and retired in 2004.
Bill always appreciated fine mechanisms and was heavily involved with photography and target shooting for hobbies as a result. He was an avid sports fan, especially of baseball and golf. He also appreciated classical music and loved listening to it.
Late in life, he moved into an independent living facility and was a staff favorite. He was loved by all who knew him and will be missed very much.
His wife, Carol Smith, preceded him in death as did his parents, Ernest and Esther Smith, a brother, James, and a sister, Jane.
He is survived by a son, Michael Smith, Aloha, Ore., and a daughter, Mary Warden, Colorado Springs, Colo. He also leaves behind two much-loved grandchildren, Ashley Warden-Williams and Nathan Warden; and two great-grandchildren, Andrew Warden and Jacob Warden.
A graveside service will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 17, at the Akron Cemetery with graveside military rites performed by the Fulton County Veterans Honor Guard.
Friends and family may gather starting at 9 a.m. at the cemetery until the time of the service .
People may share a memory or send an online condolence at www.hartzlerfuneralservices.com.