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Russell "Rusty" Kenneth Smoker 1954 ~ 2018
~~Russell “Rusty” Kenneth Smoker was born on January 31st, 1954 in McPherson, Kansas to Rhoda Mae (Newswanger) Smoker and Kenneth Ivan Smoker. Along with his six siblings, they moved around a lot due to his father’s pastoral vocation. Rusty graduated from Pittsburg High School in Kansas.
He met Rita Troyer and they were married on September 3rd, 1977 at Crystal Springs Mennonite Church. He began farming with his father-in-law, Ted Troyer, and continued to farm until he retired in 2008. Rusty was also a local school bus driver and carried many children to and from school and always had a smile and a laugh for them.
Rusty and Rita lived on a farm west of Harper where they were blessed with two daughters, Reannon and Reyna. Family was exceedingly important to him as was his church family at Crystal Springs Mennonite Church where he was a member, elder, Sunday school teacher, song leader, and in the past several years, co-pastor. He had an easy and wonderful laugh and though he was often deep in his thoughts, he also loved laughing and joking around with his family and friends.
Though his formal education stopped after just a handful of college courses, Rusty had a passion for and never stopped learning. He was a voracious reader, a writer, and a studier of theology. He was in a writer’s group for several years where he worked on the novel he was writing. He was also involved in a reading/study group at Eighth Day Books for years.
He was so passionate about so many things. He loved music of all kinds and was a drummer as well as a singer. He helped form and sang in a men’s quartet for many years. He was also an extremely talented woodcarver. He loved wildlife and nature and especially loved capturing that in wood. One of the most important things to him was his faith. It was central to his life in thoughts and in his actions.
In the past five years, he loved spending every minute he could with his grandson Griffin, who could make Rusty light up like no one else.
Rusty passed away at the Harper Hospital on January 23rd, 2018 at the age of 63, just a week short of his 64th birthday. He was preceded in death by his parents, his father-in-law, Ted Troyer, and his brother-in-law, Nic Allen.
Rusty will be deeply missed by his wife, Rita; his daughters: Reannon Everhart and her husband, Dave, and Reyna Smoker; his grandson, Griffin Everhart; his mother-in-law, Violet Troyer; his siblings: Rosalie Allen, Carolyn Smoker, and her husband, Junior Spilker, Lucille Thomas and her husband, Neil, Charlotte Claasen, Ellen Janssen and her husband, Les, and Guy Smoker; his aunt, Stella Newswanger; several nieces and nephews, other relatives and many friends.
Funeral Service was 2:00 p.m. Saturday, January 27, 2018 at the Crystal Springs Mennonite Church with Josh Patterson and Ed Robbins officiating. Karen Aldis played the piano and Eric Kerschen led the congregational singing of “Be Thou My Vision” “Abide With Me” and “Lift Your Glad Voices.” Reannon Everhart sang “Glory Bound” and “Come Thou Fount.” Interment followed at the Crystal Springs Cemetery.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Mennonite Central Committee and may be sent in care of the funeral home.
Prairie Rose Funeral Homes, 613 W 14th ~ Harper, Kansas 67058 was in charge of the arrangements.