George Woodson Smith


George Woodson Smith was born October 28, 1952 in Tucson, AZ.  His father was career military, so George lived in many states as well as living in Hawaii before it was a state!

George was valedictorian of the Knob Noster High School class of 1970.  He attended the University of Missouri in Columbia and earned a master’s degree in chemical engineering.  While at Mizzou he met Kathryn Redd and they were married December 28, 1975.

George served on Admiral Hyman Rickover’s staff as a nuclear engineer for five years from May 1975 to May 1980.  He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in February 1980 and took disability retirement. 

In May 1980, George and his wife Kathy moved back to Kansas City to be close to family.  George worked as an engineer and later as a computer programmer until 2005. In March 2009 he moved to the Community Living Center at the Leavenworth VA.  He died September 9, 2019 of complications from his multiple sclerosis.

George was preceded in death by his parents, Mayo and Halena Smith of Knob Noster, MO.  He is survived by his wife, Kathy, of Kansas City; his sister, Mary Grace Baldwin (husband Richard) of Altus, OK, and his brother, Everett (wife Susan), of Locust Grove, GA; three nieces, one nephew, a great nephew, a great niece, and a host of cousins.

One of George’s cousins stated in an e-mail that she loved his sarcastic wit and wicked sense of humor.  He amazed many of us with his recall of things he had learned and read years ago. Among the things he enjoyed were traveling while he was well, creating and hearing bad puns, collecting coins, depression glass, and antiques, working crossword puzzles, and playing cards and other games to keep his mind stimulated.  His knowledge, wisdom, wittiness and insight will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him. 


Celebration of Life Service for George Smith
Where: The Clubhouse at Teetering Rocks Links
             12040 E 86th St.
             Kansas City, MO   64138

When: Saturday, September 21 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

There will be a short service starting at 2:30 pm. Feel free to drop by between 2:00 and 2:30, come for the service at 2:30, or both. Everyone is welcome to come, but no one should feel obligated! The service will include the opportunity to share your favorite memories of George. I hope those of you who knew him will “speak up” and share with my neighbors who never had a chance to know him.

Dress is casual: Feel free to wear Chiefs gear or a t-shirt that supports your favorite college team!

Memorial Contributions

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donation to Fisher House Foundation, a nonprofit organization that builds comfort homes where military and veteran families can stay free of charge, while a loved one is in the hospital:

Fisher House Foundation, Inc.

12300 Twinbrook Pkwy, Suite 410

Rockville, Maryland 20852


  1. Rex Kummer on July 29, 2022 at 11:31 am

    The George I knew had a quirky persona—he was more than just the straight-arrow, NROTC cadet, and brilliant Chem-E student that came across at first glance. You might respect the straight-arrow/straight-A-student part, but you loved the quirky part.
    I met George as a newly arrived sophomore at Mizzou—I never heard a word from him about his freshman roommate, but I had suspicions about what might have become of him when George lit the dorm room floor on fire one afternoon using isopropyl alcohol for fuel and then sat on his bed warming his hands over the flames. I called my parents that night to say I might soon be needing a replacement roommate.
    So, it may come as a surprise that we eventually roomed together for four years, two in the dorm and two more in an apartment on Wilson Ave. But you just couldn’t help enjoying everyday life with George, peppered as it was with items such as watching him head off to a NROTC run wearing shorts with his spit-polished black corfam shoes, listening to his pithy commentary on the quality of the dorm food at Hatch Hall, or feeling the rumble of his arrival at our apartment in his big black Ford sedan with its glass-pack mufflers.
    His remarkable propensity for creating and using bad puns has been mentioned, but requires clarification. They were not just bad. They were memorably, forehead-slappingly atrocious. After years of living busy lives, George and I managed to hook back up by email and it was as if no more than a day had passed since we’d left that Columbia apartment. He was the same witty, pun-y, funny guy that I remembered—despite the challenges that life had thrown his way.

    He left us much too soon, but with memories that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.

  2. Patricia Ryals Watson on September 21, 2019 at 4:15 pm

    My memories of George Woodson Smith will always be of the remarkable young man I knew in college: straight-arrow chemical engineering major, with a quiet manner that concealed a wicked sense of humor and impressive intelligence. I can still hear George complaining about the dorm food, giving a hilarious account of a summer spent aboard a U.S. Navy submarine as a ROTC cadet, and making some truly horrible puns. George also had the rare gift of listening to others without judgment and was a caring friend. In all respects he was a true gentleman.

    Although our lives intersected for only a relatively brief time, my memories of George are vivid. His life made an impression on me, and I am a better person for having known him. Thank you George!

  3. Sundra Nunley on September 15, 2019 at 6:46 am

    My thoughts are with you as you go through this phase of life. I only met George the one time but he made a big impression on me talking about witty, and his jokes, some bordered on silly, others sarcastic but his face when he delivered the punch line….as the commercial says, Priceless. Yes a great man and he will be missed. I’m always a phone call, text, email away, Kathy. Love you. Love you George.

  4. Jack Winnick on September 15, 2019 at 3:58 am

    George Woodson lSmith was a wonderful man and one of the smartest and most capable students I ever had the pleasure of meeting and collaborating with. He had that rare gift of knowledge combined with wit, wisdom and deep modesty.

    George earned his Master’s degree in record time, producing a fine contribution to the engineering literature virtually on his own.
    He was so unique I remembered him fondly, though without contact, among my hundreds of engineering colleagues, for forty years. I only wish, as do we all, that it could have been longer.

    Live in our thoughts, George!

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