Life’s Tragic Ironies
by Dave Berry
Bolivar Herald-Free Press
Volume 127; Issue #22
June 30, 1999
When I drove through Slagle on a return trip from Springfield Monday, I was impressed with the amount of protection the highway patrol was offering highway department workers who appeared to be surveying that dangerous section of highway. It was a great idea, I thought to myself, to prevent something bad from happening.
It wasn’t until I arrived at the office that I learned something very bad had already happened there. The world had lost another good guy in the person of Vic Smith, retired highway patrol officer from Buffalo.
There were some horrible ironies associated with his death.
For starters, Vic was working in his new vocation as someone who reconstructs accidents to help determine what caused them. While he was doing so, a vehicle traveling north on Mo. 13 left the roadway and struck him.
Then consider that he had honorably completed a career with the highway patrol, a career filled with danger. He survived that only to be killed in a fluke accident in his much "safer" second career.
Vic was among the patrolmen working this county as part of a three-county zone when I began my newspaper career here 22 years ago. I liked him from the first moment I met him. He was genuine. It was always a treat to see him, although I hadn’t seen him much in recent years, not since my duties changed and the patrol zone was split.
I saw him at a retirement roast for patrolman George Janzekovich. He was counting the days - literally - until his own retirement, mostly because he realized how much more dangerous the job was becoming. In my roast comments, I had been serious enough to explain the deep respect that I had gained for those officers while riding with them. You just don’t understand until you are with one when he makes a traffic stop on a dark, lonely stretch of highway. You couldn’t have paid me enough to do that job then, much less now!
The last time I saw Vic was after his own retirement, and he made it clear that he was enjoying himself. I was happy for him, but I also remember thinking what a loss it was for the patrol not to have him out there on the road, making the kind of impression on other people that he had made on me.
And now I think what a loss it is for the world not to have him at all.
Victor Jacob Smith
May 21, 1946 - June 28, 1999
Funeral services were held July 1st at 10 a.m., in the Buffalo First Christian Church. Burial was in Maple Lawn Cemetery under the direction of the Montgomery-Viets Funeral Home of Buffalo. Visitation was from 7 to 8 p.m. June 30th in the funeral home.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Missouri Troopers Association Scholarship Fund at 1729 East Elm, Jefferson City, Missouri 65101.
Victor Jacob Smith was born at Lebanon, May 21, 1946. He died at the age of 53, June 28, 1999, in Citizen’s Memorial Hospital from injuries sustained when struck by a car while working along Highway 13 in Polk County.
He graduated from Lebanon High School in 1964. Following high school graduation, he attended the University of Missouri-Rolla, graduating with a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering in 1969.
In June of that same year, he was appointed to the Missouri State Highway Patrol as a trooper. He served the citizens of Missouri, patrolling Dallas, Hickory, and Polk Counties until his retirement in November, 1997.
He was united in marriage with Jeri Lynn Groves on March 17, 1972, and they made their home in Buffalo.
Following his retirement, he began another career as an ACTAR certified traffic accident reconstructionist with Midwest Accident Reconstruction Services. He also worked as an instructor in accident reconstruction technology for Central Missouri State University at Warrensburg and for training programs sponsored by the Missouri Sheriff’s Association.
He was a member of the Midwest Association of Technical Accident Investigators, the Society of Accident Reconstructionists, and the National Association of Professional Accident Reconstruction Specialists.
He also loved being with his dogs.
He was preceded in death by his mother, Geneva.
He is survived by his wife, Jeri; his father, Victor R. Smith of Buffalo; father and mother-in-law, Lloyd and Fern Marshall of Lebanon; and brother and sister-in-law, Steven and Cheri Groves of Rolla.