The WPI/NTPA office has been notified of the passing on Monday, November 8 of Kenneth G. Smith, 85, of Caledonia, Ohio. Mr. Smith was a competitor for more than two decades in the Super Stock division. His John Deeres were known in latter seasons as "Deere Harvester" and were copiloted by his son Mike.
A lifelong farmer, Mr. Smith was a collector of tractors bearing his favorite color. He was a faithful member of Trinity Baptist Church as well as the Ohio Two-Cylinder Club and the Classic Green Club.
His first entry in the NTPA records read simply, "12,000 Stock. 1. Kenny Smith, Marion, Ohio, driving a J.D. 4020." That the event was the 1971 National Tractor Pulling Championships in Bowling Green, Ohio is a fact whose importance would increase in stature over time, in parallel with Mr. Smith's own pulling career. He won BG again in 1972, this time as a reigning Ohio State Tractor Pullers Association champion in both the 9,000- and 12,000-lb. Super Stock classes. He finished seventh at both of those weight breaks in Grand National competition in 1974 and continued to finish in the top 10 in both through 1976, a span over which he collected seven GN event wins including two at the Ohio State Fair.
After a couple of years spent focusing on regional competition, three more GN wins came in 1979 including another at near-hometown Columbus, just 50 miles from his Marion County farm. But while this "John Deere man, through and through" tilled the land of central Ohio, he effectively owned western Kentucky, posting four wins in a 10-year span at the National Farm Machinery Show Championship Pull in Louisville.
He rose as high as third place in the 75 Super in 1983 on the strength of four more victories including Columbus (of course) as well as Tomah and Elkhorn, Wisconsin and Davenport, Iowa. By this time, his Deeres had evolved through 4020, 4230, and 4010 editions to the 4320 that had attained its nickname by virtue of an odd coupling: an International Harvester cylinder head mated to a John Deere block. The combination was successful at the state, regional, and Grand National levels as Kenny and Mike split the driving duties through 1992, claiming the 1990 Pro National title in the 7,500-lb. class.
Mr. Smith is survived by the mother of his children, Jerry Sandman; their children Mike (Denise) Smith and Chris (John Harmon) Federer; his sister Diana K. (Stu Ervay) Mitchell; grandchildren Tina (Diego) Gross, Nathan (Lauren) Smith, Lindsay (Tom) Weston, Whitney (Matt) Blankenship, Adam (Jen) Huddle, and Kenneth Chase (Stacey) Huddle; and 15 great grandchildren.
Visitation for family and friends will be from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, November 14 at Snyder Funeral Homes, Denzer Chapel, 360 East Center Street, Marion, Ohio. Mr. Smith's funeral service will be Monday at the funeral home at 10 a.m. If so desired, donations may be made to Trinity Baptist Church. Condolences may be expressed to the family at www.SnyderFuneralHomes.com.
Our hearts go out to Mike and the Smith family on the occasion of their loss.