Burial rites for Col. Dalton Smith, a onetime resident of Farmington, will take place here on August 11, 2013, members of his family have announced. Smith, who was 95 at the time of his death, had a colorful career that included both top-secret cold war planning for the Strategic Air Command and directing Christian missionaries on five continents.
Colonel Smith led an elite group within General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s European command that recommended targets in what was then the Soviet Union for aircraft equipped with nuclear weapons.
Smith died on April 16, 2013. He had been in declining health for several weeks. A memorial service will be held at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, Haworth, New Jersey on July 13, 2013 and followed by the burial on August 11, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. at the Farmington, Iowa cemetery. Arrangements are being made by the Schmitz-Lynk Funeral Home of Farmington.
At the time he retired from the Air Force, Smith was Chief of Staff for Air Force Intelligence at the Pentagon. He left the military after more than 23 years of continuous active duty including World War II, in which he served in Europe and North Africa. Among numerous decorations, he received the Bronze Star, the European-African-Middle East Medal with twelve bronze service stars, and the Korean Service Medal. At one point, he was Deputy for Intelligence in the Far East Air Force Bomber Command in Japan. He was also awarded the United Nations Service Medal.
When Colonel Smith retired in 1964, the Director of Administrative Services of the U.S. Air Force cited his “sound judgment and high professional ability” during “a long and honorable career.”
After retiring from the Air Force, Smith joined the headquarters staff of the nation’s oldest foreign missionary agency in New York City. His wide ranging duties as chief of staff to the Executive Vice-President of the United Church Board for World Ministries included policy development for the agency’s board of directors. Helping the mission agency function regularly and transparently, he kept the entire denomination better informed about the needs and growth of Christian churches around the world.
In one especially dramatic effort, he developed a program in which U.S. congregations assisted churches in developing nations distribute millions of ladybugs to farmers to ensure pollination of their crops. The program was a practical contribution to the problems of world hunger.
Smith served that United Church Board for World Ministries for a total of 22 years working with three successive executives. He also served as moderator of the denomination’s Central Atlantic Conference, the top non-staff position in the regional church organization. New Jersey United Church of Christ congregations are part of the Central Atlantic organization.
The one-time military leader became known across the United Church of Christ as an effective administrator and after his second retirement, Smith was immediately tapped to function as head of the denomination’s New Jersey Association. It was the first time that a non-ordained person had served in that position. Later he tackled a series of assignments in the UCC national offices including serving as the executive associate for the church’s president, Avery D. Post.
Dr. Post recently reflected on Smith’s service to the church as “a unique expression of care-giving” to the entire denomination. Post noted that “Dalton was a loyal friend to both lay and ordained ministers of the church” who “constantly reminded us that the church exists for mission.” Post observed that while Smith seemed to delight “in the UCC story, past and present,” he “above all sounded a forward-looking and hopeful note about the United Church of Christ and its future.” According to Post, the Haworth, N.J., layman “enabled others to be effective through his own gifts of wisdom and vision.”
Smith was called on to staff a denomination-wide committee that eventually moved the national offices of the UCC from New York City to Cleveland, OH.
More recently he was instrumental in organizing the annual reunions of the 309th Fighter Squadron (known as the “Wild Ducks”) in which he served during World War II.
Smith is survived by three children, Suzanna D. Smith (and her husband, Gary Appelson) of Gainesville, FL, Timothy Lon Smith (and his wife, Penny Poirier) of Cincinnati, OH, and Thomas Fayette Smith of Haworth, NJ; two granddaughters, Jesse Smith-Appelson and Tyler Poirier also survive.
He was preceded in death by Waneta Wilson Wood, his wife of 57 years, who died in 2004.
The son of Harry Fayette Smith and Marge Nancy Lanman Smith, Smith attended public schools in Farmington, Keosauqua and Fort Madison, Iowa, Drake University in Des Moines, and graduated from Central College in Pella, Iowa.
Smith’s love for dry martinis, the circus, Snoopy, PBS and snappy sport coats and ties will long and fondly be remembered.
In lieu of service flowers donations in Dalton’s memory may be sent to the Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ (www.globalministries.org), the Air Force Memorial (www.airforcememorial.org) or Central College (www.central.edu).
Contributions may be mailed to Schmitz-Lynk Funeral Home, P.O. Box 56, Donnellson, Iowa 52625.