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Smith, Richard Alan

Smith, Richard Alan

February 16, 1961 — April 18, 2020

Richard Alan Smith died on Saturday, April 19 at North Kansas City Hospital with his wife, Loren, and his mother, Pat, by his side. While Rich battled cancer for three years, his final hospitalization was brief, and he was able to spend most of his final weeks with his family. His family is grateful to the hospital staff for making accommodations despite current visiting restrictions. He passed peacefully.

Rich was born in 1961 in Kansas City, Missouri to David and Patricia Smith. He grew up with his sister Jane in Blue Springs, and he graduated from high school there in 1979. Those who knew him in high school will remember his love for bowling. The year he graduated he also took a People to People trip to Europe, the memories of which stayed with him for years and he often talked about.

After high school, Rich spent several years working in management for national beauty supply and electronics retailers in Missouri, Texas, California, and finally Colorado. He moved back to Missouri in 1994 and he joined his dad, “Sanyo Dave,” on the assembly line at Ford in Claycomo. Not long after that he met his future wife, Loren, on the line at Ford and they married in 1997 at the Methodist church in Liberty. Together they raised Loren's children, Loren and Les, and Rich’s entire family—his parents Nana and Papa, his sister Jane and niece Janell, and his Uncle Bob Smith and family—all welcomed Loren and her kids in as their own.

Outside of work and in his early years Rich was a racquetball player and avid skier and he often reminisced about trips to Colorado with the Kansas City Ski Club. He also loved hockey and took his family to Blades and later Mavericks games. His family will never forget the series of road trips they took during the July plant shutdowns, driving tens of thousands of miles and stopping at a range of places from the Meteor Crater to New York City. They have enjoyed looking through those photos together in recent days.

At Ford, Rich found his niche as a coordinator and later working on the launch team, making sure the plant was ready for model changeovers, and he especially enjoyed traveling to Detroit. Although he hadn’t gone to college after high school, he graduated from Longview Community College while working at the plant and raising two kids, of which he was proud. His coworkers will remember him for his thoroughness and his wry sense of humor, and plant managers won’t soon forget his steady flow of pointed emails asking for again for the correct parts, cleaner facilities, or safer equipment.

After twenty-six years at Ford, Rich and Loren both retired at the end of March. While Loren had been planning to retire, Rich hadn’t. Working had really kept him going for the last two years. Twenty-six years and millions of cars made is an incredible body of work by any measure. He was proud of his accomplishments at Ford, and his family's only regret is that they weren't able to walk through the plant one last time together. The recent outreach from his friends, those he mentored, and his UAW Local 249 union brothers and sisters is a testament to his impact.

Cancer is a difficult disease, but Rich had a long, full life, and there is much for all of us to remember him by, even if we all wish we'd had more time with him. Rich was kind and straightforward. He liked t-shirts and flannel, B-movies and his recliner, Papa’s cookies and Loren's spaghetti. None of us are perfect, but Rich always tried to do the right thing, and he always showed up and reached out to others when it really mattered. He lived an honorable life.

Rest easy, Rich. We’ll keep the line moving.

Because of social distancing guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic, services for Rich will be private. The family will hold a celebration of life at a future time. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the American Cancer Society or the Mayo Clinic.

Service Information

Because of social distancing guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic, services for Rich will be private. The family will hold a celebration of life at a future time. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the American Cancer Society or the Mayo Clinic.

Smith, Richard Alan's Guestbook

Please accept my condolences. I have always had fond memories of Rich. He was my first boyfriend in the 9th grade. He rode his bike over to bring me a heart shaped box of chocolates for Valentines that year. He gave me my first kiss on the cheek. LOL. We worked many hours at Blue Springs juniors high school on the yearbook in 1974/1975. Sorry for your loss, I’m so glad he found happiness.

Penny (Hans) King

I am so sorry to hear of Rich’s passing. Having run into Janie a while back, I knew he was battling cancer. My fondest high school memories include Rich, and his family. Peace be with you all. (Laurie Simpson back then)

Lauren Peterson

We thank God for the time we had “cuz” in our lives. While we only got closer over the last decade, his dry humor that shone in our great conversations will be missed.

Kent and Jennifer Smith

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