Roger David Smith, of Paducah and other locales, passed away suddenly August 19, 2019.
He had moved back to Paducah only four months after retiring early from his career as a process engineering consultant with oil and chemical companies all over the world. Roger was born February 17, 1955, in Paducah, Kentucky, was preceded in death by his father, Bobby Gene Smith of Hardin, Kentucky and his mother, Betty Jean Smith Warren, of Paducah, Kentucky. Roger's mother passed away only two and a half weeks before he did. He is survived by his sister, Luanne Smith.
Roger showed an aptitude for math and science early on, and while he dreamed of being an astronaut like many boys his age in the 1960s, he displayed his true capabilities by taking apart most every toy he received and his dad's transistor radio when his dad happened to be at work. Years later, he would adapt an old cabinet radio into a guitar amplifier and build his own t.v. from assorted parts in the basement with his friends. He claimed he had nothing to do with accidentally blowing up the high school Chemistry Lab at Lone Oak High School in the early 1970s, but his family had their doubts on his finger pointing at a friend of his.
Two other things that were constants in his life were his love of rock music and his pleasure in sports, specifically University of Kentucky basketball. Roger graduated from Lone Oak High School in 1973, and, after a year at PCC, he became a student at UK in the Chemical Engineering Program. He graduated with honors in 1977, and he cheered on a year later when Goose Givens scored 41 points in the championship game of the NCAA tournament, against Duke University, mind you, and Kentucky brought home their fifth NCAA championship title. Though UK has won several championships, this title was the pinnacle of Roger Smith's love affair with sports.
Also in his time at UK, Roger Smith studied guitar with an elderly blues artist who taught him first and foremost how to tune his guitar so that the rest of his friends and family had a chance of surviving his practicing. He had played trumpet in the award winning marching band at LOHS and had enough of a natural ear for music. He taught himself to play a variety of instruments, most of them in tune, thanks to those lessons he took. He enjoyed playing John Prine songs for his grandmother, Reetha Smith. Her toe-tapping and head-nodding as he played brought smiles to all his family.
Roger also loved history, and he became as knowledgeable about the Civil War in the U.S. as any university scholar, according to his sister who is a college professor. He eventually joined the reenactment group in Kentucky and bought authentic equipment to take part in living history events at various battlegrounds across the Eastern Seaboard. He and his fellow reenactors were hired, at one point, to play the soldiers in both encampment scenes and in battle scenes in the mini-series, North and South. Roger often spoke of the fact that the media mogul who owned the channel paying for North and South to be made ruined the movie's efforts at authenticity with the reenactors by insisting on leading a charge as a confederate general in the film and raising his arm to lead his troops, only to have his Rolex watch catch the sunlight in the scene.
As for Roger's career as an engineer, he moved around to where the jobs took him, spending several years recently in Calgary, Canada working for Jacobs Engineering Firm. Co-workers from his career from his time in Baton Rouge, Calgary and Houston have identified him as a mentor and good boss, and many have expressed their sadness at his untimely passing.
Roger was a kind man, a raucous Big Blue fan, a good friend and decent poker player. He became a great boss within his career and a beloved stepbrother when his mother remarried at age 79 to Joseph Warren, bringing together two fun-loving families for many laughs and a lot of love. Laughs and love were a part of the family Roger had grown up in and continued through his last days at home in Paducah.
Family, co-workers, friends and fellow reenactors are welcome to join Roger's family and step-family in paying tribute to Roger Smith's memory Saturday, November 23, 2019, at Collier's Funeral Home in Benton, Kentucky. Family will have time alone from 1 until 2 p.m. Saturday, and then visitation with the family starts at 2 p.m. At 3 p.m., services will start. Rev. Richard Burkeen will officiate.
Any person interested in sharing memories or paying tribute to Roger are welcome to attend and to speak, if they want to. All are invited to wear their University of Kentucky Blue, their classic rock tee shirts or their reenactment uniforms to truly honor Roger David Smith's life and loves.