5/14/1938 - 3/15/2010
Keith Smothers passed from this life unexpectedly on Saturday, March 15, 2010 at 2:15 p.m. at Palomar Hospital in Escondido, California. He was 71 years old. This was, without a doubt, the saddest day for the Smothers Family. He was the soulmate and husband of Elizabeth Smothers, loving father to Joni, David, Danny, Amy, and Tim and grandfather to Joshua, Jana, Ashley, Christopher, Cierra, Journey, and Rayven.
Keith was born in Parsons, Kansas on May 14, 1938 to Reginald Smothers and Alberta McDonald Smothers. He had two sisters, Genell and Judy. As a boy he attended elementary school in Centerville, Kansas, and high school in Humboldt, Kansas where he met his future wife Elizabeth Tilman. He later attended Northern Montana College and the University of Minnesota.
From a young teenager until 1972 he worked in the railroad industry starting with the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (MKT) then the Great Northern Railroad and ending as a traveling auditor for the Burlington Northern Railroad in St. Paul, Minnesota. Keith devoted the next ten years to full-time ministry for the Church of Christ teaching the gospel in Montana, Arizona and Alabama. In 1982 he started a new career as a communications technician with AT&T in Julian, California. He retired from AT&T in 1994 to assist his family with the operation of the Julian Pie Company.
Keith was instrumental in helping his wife Liz open a second location for the Julian Pie Company. Together they designed and purchased equipment for this new facility in Santa Ysabel, California. They were now able to expand the business by selling to local markets in the San Diego area. In those early days Liz would bake the pies and Keith would deliver them.
As the business grew, Keith educated himself in the art of orcharding and with the help of his sons planted thousands of apple trees. Always interested in the latest technology, he was one of the first to bring high intensity orchards to the Julian area.
Keith was passionate about telegraphy and Amateur Radio (ham radio). He communicated in Morse code with many enthusiasts all over the world. At age eleven he traveled alone by train sixty four miles to Kansas City, Missouri to take the exam for a First Class Radio Operator’s license. His call sign was W4NZM.
Keith received his private pilot’s license in 1997. He was an active member of the Vintage Mooney Group. His favorite flight was to the Midwest to visit relatives, and his favorite passenger was his wife, Liz. He flew his last solo long-distance flight from Chanute, Kansas to Ramona, California just six weeks before his death.
Keith is remembered for his keen intellect and ability to make people laugh, especially his grandchildren. He often took the long road home because he loved the untouched country side. He cared deeply for his family and was devoted to his faith throughout his life. Quoting Dillard Harwell, an elder at the Johnson Street Church of Christ, “Keith was a gentle, God fearing man who prepared his life for this moment.”