Lawrence “Larry” Irving Smith (Smitty), 84, lost his battle with Parkinson’s Disease on April 12, 2022. He leaves a huge hole in the hearts of his family and friends who were always entertained by his jokes and recaps of past baseball games.
Larry was born on October 28, 1937 to Washington Irving and Dollie Dorcas Smith in Decatur, Illinois.
Larry was an athlete throughout his school career in Cerro Gordo, Illinois. He continued his participation in sports as he lettered on the Varsity Baseball team for 3 years at Eastern Illinois University. He was also a member of the Phi Sigma Epsilon Fraternity at EIU.
Upon graduation from EIU, Larry began his teaching career, at Cerro Gordo Junior High, then at Fisher Junior High, and then back to Cerro Gordo High School. While teaching, Larry also coached baseball and basketball. He received his masters at South Dakota State and was the Assistant Baseball Coach there. In 1966, Larry became the Kaskaskia College Baseball Coach. He relished in that position for the next 36 years.
During Larry’s tenure at KC, he touched the lives of many young men through the baseball team and many students as the First Aid and PE teacher and became Coach Smith or “Smitty.” He retired as the 4th Illinois Junior College coach to surpass 800 victories. Five father and son duos were coached by Larry along with 2 families who had all 3 and 4 of their sons play for Coach Smith. He also had the privilege to coach his own son and both of his future son-in-laws. Twelve of his players signed with major league baseball organizations and three players played in the big leagues. All of his former players would say that they remember the jokes that “Smitty” would share and his elaborate memory of specific baseball situations. Throughout this time at KC, Coach Smith led his team to collect and distribute Thanksgiving baskets to families throughout the KC district.
Coach Smith was also selected to coach the South Jr. College All-Star Team (1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1994) and was chosen as the North Team Coach for the 1986 U.S. Olympic Festival in Houston. Besides coaching, Coach Smith designed a baseball scorebook that allowed for more detailed statistics that was copyrighted in 1968. Coach Smith was the driving force behind building the current baseball facility for Kaskaskia College, utilizing only volunteers and donations, resulting in one of the finest college baseball facilities in the area. The complex was named Larry Smith Field in 1999 in honor of Coach Smith. In 2003, his KC baseball jersey, #3, was retired. Other honors include: KC Athletic Hall of Fame as an individual (1996) and as coach of several KC baseball teams inducted (1981-82, 1987-88, 1988-89, 1990-91) and as assistant coach of the KC basketball team of 1966-67, the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches’ Hall of Fame, the Centralia Sports Hall of Fame, the Cerro Gordo Teachers Hall of Fame and was inducted into the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2009. In his spare time, Larry enjoyed refereeing high school basketball games (25 year service award to IHSA Officials) and in retirement umpired softball games. When not involved in sports, Larry enjoyed tinkering around his “hobby” farm known as Smith BackAchers, raising cows, sheep, horses, ducks and chickens.
Larry was preceded in death by his wife of 46 years, Dorothy (Dottie) Smith, his parents Irving and Dorcas Smith, and his sister Nancy Snoke, along with many sister-in-laws and brother-in-laws.
Larry is survived by his loving family-daughter April Mahy and husband Jeff, daughter Angela Kruse and husband Doug, and son Darin Smith and wife Stacy. He is survived by grandchildren Jake and Morghan Mahy, MacKenzie Mahy and friend Marco Berto, Houston Kruse and fiancee Hannah Frerker, Griffin Kruse and friend Gracie Jasper, Jaelynn Kruse, Reid Smith and friend Kaeleigh Williams, Kylee Smith, Drew Smith, and Sydnee Smith and great-grandson Camden Mahy. Larry is also survived by his brother Kent Smith and wife Jan, sister-in-law Linda Huss, many nieces and nephews and many friends and former players.
A quote was found in his wallet which exemplified Larry’s life…
“Never sigh over what might have been but make the best of what is.”
Donations in Larry’s honor may be made to the KC Sports Association or the Carlyle First United Methodist Church.
Visitation services will be held at the Zieren Funeral Home in Carlyle on Monday, April 18, 2022, from 4:00-8:00 PM. Funeral will be held at the Carlyle First United Methodist Church on Tuesday, April 19, 2022, at 10:00 AM. Visitation will also be available at the church on Tuesday morning from 8:30-10:00 AM.
Feel free to wear your favorite KC or baseball attire in honor of Coach Smith.