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Robert M. Smoker, 88, of Tecumseh, Kansas went to be with his Lord and Savior on Monday, March 30, 2020 at Homestead Memory Care of Olathe, Kansas. He was born May 31, 1931 in Muncie, Indiana, the son of Zeno & Pauline Smoker. He is the oldest of 4 children. Robert “Bob” graduated from Selma High School and went on to Business School. He went into the United States Air Force and was stationed at Forbes Air Force Base in Topeka. During the Korean War, he was stationed in Alaska for 6 months. His company brought back a lost baby bear for the Topeka Zoo. After his Alaskan tour he left the military and began working for Santa Fe Railroad. He worked in the Topeka offices for 37 years in the accounting department.
During his years at the Air Force base, he met a lovely young lady, Martha, at the Topeka First Church of the Nazarene. After a couple of years of dating, they were married April 14, 1957. They had 3 children, Janice, Robert and Karen. When the children were young, Bob built a house in Tecumseh, Kansas where he and Martha lived happily for almost 50 years.
Bob’s love has always been gardening and composting. He has been on many gardening TV shows, traveled giving compost demonstrations to all ages and been known nationally throughout the Master Gardener community as “Mr. Compost.” Every fall people would call him to pick up their bags of leaves. He would haul hundreds of bags home and then shred them into his compost areas with his industrial sized shredder. He was well known for his humongous, delicious tomatoes, mouth watering sweet corn and his melt-in-your-mouth blackberries. He operated a farmer’s market out of his garage. He would have to grow over 1000 lbs of tomatoes every year just to keep up. He won many awards for the beauty, taste and size of his produce. He was the founder of the Men’s Garden Club of Topeka, member of Master Gardeners of America, on the committee for the National Gardeners of America and won many civic awards for his composting in Topeka.
He was always proud of the fact that he planted every tree, flower and bush on their property. He kept their 1 ½ acres of land organic and beautiful. He never sprayed, but hand dug every dandelion and weed. It was not uncommon to see him with his kneeling pads, his 5 gallon bucket and his dandelion digger. He loved the peace and beauty of their water garden. He had 50+ goldfish in the pond. You should have seen them scurry to the top when he started calling, “fishy, fishy, fishy!” They knew it was feeding time!
Bob moved to Olathe fall of 2012 to be closer to his children and 7 grandchildren after his wife, Martha, passed away from battling cancer. He was at Homestead Memory Care of Olathe where the loving staff became like family. He connected with staff and residents through playing many different activities provided by staff. His bright blue eyes caught everyone’s attention and his sweet personality showed God’s love to others even when he couldn’t talk much anymore. The staff enjoyed dad’s witty side as well as they asked him “How long have you been a Smoker?” and his response “All my life!” Another was “How are you feeling, Bob?” He responded “with my fingers!” The staff will forever be in our hearts as they treated our dad like we would, with much love.
Robert is preceded in death by his wife, Martha (Langley) of 56 years and sister, Marilyn Ferrell. He is survived by three children, Janice (Miles) Long, Olathe, Kansas; Robert (Vicky) Smoker, Olathe, Kansas; Karen (Denis) Payne, Raytown, Missouri; seven grandchildren, two siblings Kenneth Smoker and Loretta “June” Wilber, and many nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at a later date at Topeka First Church of the Nazarene. The family will have a private burial service at Keene Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be given to Topeka First Church of the Nazarene, 1001 SW Buchanan, Topeka, Kansas 66604 or to the Alzheimer’s Association Heart of America Chapter, 3846 W 75th St. #4126, Prairie Village, KS, 66208.
Kathy Polk says
My prayers are for all of Robert’s family! May the hope & peace of Christ be a source of strength & comfort to you all until you are reunited with Robert.
Michael Mitchell says
So sorry for your loss Karen. Was really blessed by the video. Be encouraged because you had such awesome parents and they can be proud of such awesome children such as yourself. Prayers up for you.
SHIRLEY and Phil Riley says
Our thoughts and prayers are with you- Janet, Robert and Karen and all the family in the loss of your Dad.
He and Martha were such a vital part of Topeka First Church and we have so many great memories of the Smoker family during the years we were privileged to be your pastor (1967-1973).
What a wonderful legacy they have passed on to you three kids, spouses, grandkids and great grandkids. You were truly blest to have parents like them. May God grant you comfort and peace during this time.
Phil and SHIRLEY Riley
Yamelly Weida says
I am sorry for the loss of your dad. I hope all the good memories stay until you meet again.
Roberta Krull says
Robert was a special friend. I assisted him many times as he shared his knowledge of composting all around Shawnee County. We were Master Gardner’s buddies. My sympathy to his family at his passing.
Belinda Patton says
I am so sorry for the loss Robert he was a wonderful man and will be greatly missed. This was a beautiful video in memory of Robert you had done. You’re all in my thoughts and prayers.
Tessa Gillespie says
Thank you for sharing the obituary and video with us. What a wonderful life he had and loving family. Beautifully done. Blessings to all the family. May the Lord comfort you all.
Donda McLaughlin says
I got to meet Bob while he was on hospice and I was his social worker for a time. His blue eyes drew you in. He was always a sweet man. To his beloved family, my prayers for peace to surround you and peace for Mr. Smoker. Thank you for allowing us the privilege of his care.
Donda McLaughlin, L.M.S.W.
Catholic Community Hospice
Cathy Langley Buehler says
Beautiful tribute to Uncle Bob. Thoughts and prayers to all my cousins.
Jeffery and Rhonda Hendricks says
Condolences to the family of a fruitful, faithful Christian man. Topeka First was blessed to have Bob and Martha as precious members of our church.
In His Love,
Jeffery and Rhonda Hendricks
Terry and Karen Frizzell says
What a blessing to watch the video. Gardeners have a special place in my heart. God’s peace to all of you, Janice, Robert & Karen and all of your family.
Bonnie Thornton says
Just learned today of Bob’s passing. I will miss seeing Bob at Homestead and visiting with Janice. Please know my prayers are with you and your family.