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 Gerald David “Firpo” Smith

Gerald David “Firpo” Smith

Fort Scott, Bourbon County, Kansas, USA
Death 28 Feb 1985 (aged 58)
Fort Scott, Bourbon County, Kansas, USA
Burial Fort Scott, Bourbon County, Kansas, USA
Plot 8, 0, 457
Memorial ID 1191819 · View Source
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21,202 Days



Firpo Smith dead at 58


Gerald D. (Firpo) Smith, 58, was pronounced dead on arrival at Mercy Hospital at 3:30 a.m. today. He was born Feb. 12, 1927, at Fort Scott, the son of Alvin and Eva Elizabeth Greer Smith. He married Patricia L. Moore, Sept. 18, 1948, at Fort Scott. For years Mr. Smith had served as the local Red Cross Bloodmobile chairman. He was a Navy veteran of World War II and a member of the First Presbyterian Church. He was retired from the Gas Service Co.

Survivors include his wife of the home; one son, Charles Robert Smith of the home; two brothers, Howard Smith of Lenexa, Kan., and Homer Potter of Route 3; four sisters, Mabel Frye of Pierre, S.D., Margaret Weatherbie of Welch, Okla., Shirley Mitzner of Shawnee, Kan., and Elizabeth Shannon of Yukon, Okla.

Services will be at 1 p.m. Monday at Earl's Memorial Home conducted by the Rev. Leon Weece. Burial will be in Fort Scott National Cemetery. Visitation will be from 7 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Earl's Memorial Home. Memorials may be made to the American Heart Association.

Services for Gerald D (Firpo) Smith will be at 1 p.m. Monday at the Community Christian Church conducted by the Rev. Leon Weece. This is a change in location from Earl's Memorial Home. Burial will be in Fort Scott National Cemetery. Visitation will be from 7 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Earl's Memorial Home.

Pallbearers for the funeral of Gerald D. (Firpo) Smith were Junior Sims, Lyal Burt, Perry Dobbins, Bob Miller, Bill Majors, Gary Stufflebeam, Tom Quick and Charles Wenderott. Honorary pallbearers were Paul Cambell, Dr. James Burke, Wallace Darling and Curtis Shankel. Karen Billiard was organist. Members of Olson-Frary Burkhart Post, Veterans of Foreign Wars, provided the color guard: Olan Crane, Warren Mayfield, Hale McMillan, Glenn Maupin, Ernie Allen and Jim Sparks; and the firing squad: Clarence Young, Charles Magee, Alva Lowe and Everett Farmer. Past commander R.C. (Tot) Coyan presented the flag to the widow of the deceased, Pat Smith.



Gerald David "Firpo" Smith was born Saturday February 12, 1927 in Fort Scott, the third child of Alvin Howard Smith and Eva Elizabeth Greer Smith.

Firpo's grandparents John & Josephine Smith had moved to Bourbon County from Lafayette County, Missouri about 1886 and Alvin was born the following year. Firpo's childhood in Fort Scott was not an easy one, though perhaps he didn't know any better at the time. Even with Alvin having a job with the Frisco Railroad, there were still many mouths to feed. After Alvin's untimely death at age 49 at the height of the Great Depression in 1936, Eva was left with four young children and no job prospects. Eva remarried a year later and Firpo had an uneasy relationship with his erratic stepfather and, as a result, Firpo would scarcely spend any time around their home. Plus, Firpo's younger brother Virgil suffered from epilepsy and was prone to violent seizures and he was permanently hospitalized in 1941. Meals would frequently be squirrel or rabbit shot while hunting. Eva would sometimes buy Firpo and his Smith siblings clothes through her father's $2/month military pension, though nothing of the sort ever came from the stepfather. Firpo attended Fort Scott schools including Eugene Ware Elementary. Firpo and his Smith siblings were not encouraged to stay in school by their parents and Firpo quit school after 8th Grade in 1942 in order to work. One early teen activity consisted of Firpo and his neighborhood friends including "Slip" & Fred Campbell collecting empty bottles and pieces of metal that they could sell at a junkyard so that they could pay the 10 cents to get into a movie or the swimming pool. One unique practice of theirs would be for Firpo, Bill Hurst, and others to loudly yodel to each other to signal that they were on their way to one another's houses.

With his mother's written consent at the earliest opportunity when he turned 17, Firpo enlisted in the Navy. By May 1944, Firpo was serving in the Western Pacific on LST-268 (Landing Ship Tank), which over the next year would be responsible for carrying first-wave assault troops into Saipan, Tinian, Peleliu Island, Luzon, and Okinawa. LST-268 was considered a "large slow target" and after Luzon, it had a close call when its convoy was attacked by a formation of Japanese Kamikaze fighters; one Kamikaze plane was shot and exploded seconds before it would've crashed into LST-268. It's believed that Firpo was struck by part of the plane's propeller, though he was uninjured. After Okinawa, LST-268 returned to San Francisco to be overhauled before the invasion of the Japanese homeland and it had returned back to Okinawa before the Japanese surrendered. Firpo achieved the rank of Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class and was honorably discharged December 12, 1947. Firpo was one of 20 crewmembers to attend the first LST-268 reunion in Port Huron, Michigan in 1980 and he later attended two more reunions. Firpo's service to the United States during World War II was his single proudest individual endeavor.

Shortly thereafter upon returning to Fort Scott, Firpo met Patricia Lucille Moore while snow-sledding and the two were married September 18, 1948. A baby son David Arnold Smith was born in April 1949, but died within days of some respiratory ailment. Despite this heartbreaking loss, the young couple persevered through their love of one another and the support of their family and friends. Over the next several years, Firpo moved up the career ladder including jobs at the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, Darling & Maguire's and others before starting at the Gas Service Company in the late 1950's where he would work for 20-plus years. Also around this time, Firpo and Patricia purchased their home on Eddy Street.

Firpo and Patricia's son Charles Robert was born August 1965. Firpo and Patricia doted on Charles. Perhaps mindful of the pain they had felt over the loss of David Arnold, Firpo and Patricia were very protective of Charles growing up and they never took him for granted. Eddy Street was a great place for Charles and other neighborhood kids to grow up as there were roughly 25 families there with young
children and/or teenagers. On a couple of occasions, Firpo discouraged Charles from taking summer jobs that Firpo felt were too hard or unpleasant. As Firpo was improving his lot in life over that of his parents, it was always understood that Charles would go to college so that he would have opportunities that Firpo and Patricia didn't have. As a direct result of Firpo and Patricia's influence and encouragement, Charles would later graduate from Pittsburg State as well as obtain an MBA degree from the University of
Southern California.

Popular to begin with, Firpo was well-known around Fort Scott through the Gas Company as well as through his involvement in several civic organizations including the Jaycees, the Optimist Club, the VFW, the Quarterback Club, and later as chairman of the Bourbon County Red Cross Bloodmobile. Firpo was also at one time a little league baseball coach and coached intramural basketball in addition to playing in local baseball and softball leagues. Firpo and Patricia attended the Presbyterian Church where Firpo was baptized along with Charles by Reverend Gordon Zimmerman.

Along with many other people in town, Firpo was also a huge fan of the FSCC Greyhounds football team during their heyday of the 1960's and early 1970's. Firpo and Patricia would go to all of the home games where Firpo for a time would shoot off a makeshift M-80 cannon from the endzone after touchdowns and he would later utilize a handheld crank siren from the stands along with being louder and more vocal than most other spectators. Firpo and Patricia would also travel to many of the away games, which would start with a police escort of the team buses beginning at the college, through town, up Main Street, and to the edge of town with a convoy of cars following behind honking their horns with headlights on. Firpo had friendships with several of the head coaches including Howard Mahanes. Firpo would sometimes attend practices as well as visit with coaches in their offices. As a sports fan, Firpo also occasionally liked to attend Kansas City Athletics and Royals baseball games at old Municipal Stadium and later at the new sports complex.

The Firpo nickname came from an "Our Gang" style short film series that played at the local theater in the late 1930's in which the New York kid gang leader in the series was named Firpo. This Firpo character wore an old felt dress hat (popular style at the time) in which the brim was held up in the front and back by safety pins. When Gerald Smith took to wearing one of those hats, he closely resembled the Firpo character in the movies and that's when he started becoming known around Fort Scott as "Firpo" Smith.

Firpo Smith was of mixed ancestry with a somewhat dark complexion, dark brown hair, and brown eyes; owing to his mother Eva's and his grandmother Josephine's Native American sides. Firpo had a swagger about him; more of a good-natured cockiness and not arrogant or aggressive. Firpo had a warm personality and was fun to be around as he had a lively sense of humor and liked to good-naturedly tease others and he could also laugh at himself when the tables were turned. Firpo had an empathetic side and he genuinely cared for his friends and other people he would encounter. Firpo could wear his emotions on his sleeve. Besides sports, Firpo's interests also included hunting and fishing and there is a brief account in the online Tribune of a 1957 pheasant-hunting trip to Colby, Kansas with Bob Miller and others. Among other things, Firpo also enjoyed music including swing and jazz, Dean Martin, and others.

As a smoker and as someone who didn't always watch his weight and take care of himself, Firpo started having health issues in his mid 40's. Firpo underwent triple-bypass open-heart surgery in 1977 at KU Medical Center after being told by doctors that he would be dead in 30 days if he didn't have the surgery. Despite surgical procedures being more invasive back then and not as advanced as they are now 35 years later and despite occasional setbacks and brief hospitalizations going forward, Firpo lived another eight years until his death Thursday February 28, 1985.

Firpo and Patricia had remained married for 36 years and they were both very proud of this longevity in their marriage. Firpo was a loving and caring father and husband as well as a friend to many.

- CRS June 11, 2012


Good friends with Bob Miller (1930 - 2012) and others.

Josephine Smith (1866 - 1946)
John Smith (1856 - 1923)

Albert Greer (1874 - 1918)
Barbara Greer (1875 - 1913)


Family Members

Siblings Half Siblings
Gravesite Details Location: Left side, first row of flat gravestones.
  • Maintained by: MooreSmith
  • Originally Created by: US Veterans Affairs Office
  • Added: 26 Feb 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 1191819
  • MooreSmith
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Gerald David “Firpo” Smith (12 Feb 1927–28 Feb 1985), Find A Grave Memorial no. 1191819, citing Fort Scott National Cemetery, Fort Scott, Bourbon County, Kansas, USA ; Maintained by MooreSmith (contributor 47593861) .