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Otho Loyd Smith

Family, friends and players celebrated Otho Smith’s years as a volunteer softball coach with a ceremony and honorary game in September. Two teams of young girls wore green and gold jerseys with Mr. Smith’s team name, the Snappers, on them.

One of the players, a 7-year-old girl, asked if Mr. Smith would sign her jersey. Soon, the other girls wanted their jerseys signed, too.

“He signed every shirt for both teams,” said Debbie Jameson, executive director for the Diamond Council of Columbia Inc. through which Mr. Smith volunteered. “There were probably 11 kids on each team, and the coaches. I still have mine. It’s hanging in my room.”

Mr. Smith, 53, died on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010, of colon cancer.

Otho was born to Otho L. Smith and the late Bernice (Johnson) Smith on July 19, 1957 in Auxvasse. He married Debi Snider in May of 1984.

Mr. Smith was the vice president of the Diamond Council of Columbia Inc. He served as a board member from 1998 until 2010.

“He was a huge volunteer for us,” Jameson said. “If a team was without a coach, he’d take on the team in addition to the Snappers. Three times, he stepped up and coached before he got sick. Anytime I needed something extra, I could count on him.”

One time, the council needed to put air conditioning in a concession stand. Because Mr. Smith knew about heating and air conditioning, he took over the project, Jameson said.

“He took care of that, ordered parts and monitored that for us,” Jameson said. “Anything he could do. He said, ‘Debbie, what do you need, and I’ll do it.’”

This willingness to help was echoed by people in all aspects of his life.

“Whenever you needed something, he was the one there to help you. He gave freely of his time," longtime friend Gary Ennis said. "A lot of people don’t know the amount of time people like Otho spend giving to others, but he never asked for anything in return.”

In addition to his volunteer coaching, Mr. Smith worked for nearly 12 years as a manager at Schepker Parts Supply.

Joe Schepker, of Schepker Parts Supply, said that Mr. Smith’s desk was filled with softball manuals, magazines about softball, and statistics for his players. He said that on slow days, Mr. Smith could be found on the computer typing up those statistics.

“He had diagrams on his desk,” Schepker said. “His vacation time and off-time went to coaching games. We had nets and an inside batting cage set up in the store, with training tools – PVC pipe to show how to swing a bat, batting tees and two different ball machines.”

Schepker said that players and former players would frequently come into the store and would practice there on weekends.

“He was proud of all his girls,” Schepker said. “They were his girls, just like they were his kids. He made sure each one of them got a college education. He ran a tight ship while coaching, but was probably the biggest fan of every one of his girls.”

Mr. Smith is survived by his wife, Debi Snider; two daughters, Sarah Cooper and Emily Smith; his father, Otho L. Smith; one granddaughter, Blakely Cooper; eight siblings, Jean Dudley, Mary Smith, Kay Trowbridge, Barbara Harbaugh, Curtis Smith, Alice Bradley, Cheryl Henley and Connie Lange; and several nieces and nephews.

His mother, Bernice (Johnson) Smith, and brother-in-law, Jack Trowbridge, died earlier.

Services will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 18, at Parkade Baptist Church, 2102 North Garth Ave.

Contributions may be given to the Diamond Council, P.O. Box 576, Columbia, MO 65205.

Tributes can be left online at www.memorialfuneralhomeandcemetery.com.

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