Vigen Memorial Home obituary – Joe Thomas Smith, 90, Beloit, Wis.

 Joe Thomas Smith, 90 of Beloit, WI died Monday, September 9, 2019 at The Suites Hospice facility in Beloit, WI.

     He was born June 23, 1929 in Canton, MO the son of Frank William and Emma A. (Alderton) Smith.  He was raised by his step-mother, Leta Smith, and his father following his mother’s early death.


     Joe grew up in Canton and attended school there.   Following his graduation from High School, Joe attended Culver Stockton College in Canton, MO and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physics in May of 1951. 

     Following college graduation, Joe answered the call of his country and entered the United States Marines in 1951.  He served in Korea during the Korean War as an Electronics and Radio Repair Mechanic II.  He received his honorable discharge in August of 1953 with the rank of Corporal. He was awarded the Korean Service Medal with two Stars and the United Nations Service Medal.

     On September 3, 1961 Joe wed Catherine E. (Betty) Hickey at St. Peters Church in Keokuk. After the wedding he and Betty made Beloit their permanent home.  While living in Beloit, Joe and Betty became lifelong friends with George Porter, George’s wife, Kate, and their children.  Joe and George spent hours discussing most everything under the sun, especially the Chicago Bears football team  Theirs was one of those special friendships that not only endured over time, it grew stronger.   

     Joe began employment at Fairbanks-Morse in Beloit Wisconsin in 1953, working in the Diesel Engine Testing Laboratory.  During his time with Fairbanks he traveled extensively doing engine data collection on remote engine installations.  His work took him to several South American countries, Greenland, and on US Navy submarines at sea.  He retired from Fairbanks after thirty-seven years of service on June 30, 1991 as their Chief Instrumentation Engineer.

     He was a long-time member of the American Legion Post 41 in Keokuk.

    He is survived by his sister, Emma Ruth Ayers of Painted Post, NY, nieces and nephews including Steve (Cindy) Ayers of Canton, MO, Diana Ayers of Bath, NY, Donna Ayers of Raytown, MO, Paul (Blanca) Ayers of Conway, AR, Debbie (Kevin) Carr of Nutley, NJ, Tim (Rita) Hickey of Montrose, Mike (Karen) Hickey of Keokuk, Mary (Dennis) Blickhan of Keokuk and Chris (Kevin) Blind of Solon, IA. 

     He was preceded in death by his parents and his wife Betty, who died January 22, 2008.

     A funeral service will be held at 10:30 a.m., Monday, at the Vigen Memorial Home in Keokuk, IA with Pastor Mike Shea officiating.  Burial with military rites will follow the service at 11 a.m. in the Keokuk National Cemetery.

     Visitation for family and friends will be held prior to the service from 10-10:30 a.m., Monday at the funeral home.

     In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Joe’s memory to the Beloit Regional Hospice, 655 3rd Street, Beloit, WI  53511. 

     The Vigen Memorial Home in Keokuk is assisting the family with arrangements.

     On-line condolences may be sent to the family at

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