Lost But Not Forgotten: Anchorage Residents Pack Church to Remember APD Officer Killed in Plane Crash
ANCHORAGE - Anchorage residents gathered to remember a man who's obituary reads more like a tall tale.
Fifty-nine-year-old Ted Ronald Smith loved "anything you could fly, drive or shoot." He served as a sergeant for the Anchorage Police Department for 29 years. He spent much of his life in the biggest state, but he was born in the smallest state, Rhode Island. He was a pilot, a scuba diver, gunsmith, mechanic, biker and firearms instructor. At his funeral at Central Lutheran Church on Saturday, his daughter Amy said that he taught her to recite the general rules of firearms -- when she was three years old.
Smith died on March 4 in a small airplane crash in Rainy Pass, Alaska. Up until that point, his friends and loved ones say he lived life with a zest. He learned everything he could, but he was also passionate about teaching people. That included life lessons he taught by example. "Misery is optional," he told his daughter. During her eulogy Amy talked about how her dad served as an inspiration for how to live life. They talked to each other daily, even when she lived across the country from him. "He touched so many lives in many ways," she said. "Hearts around the world are breaking today."
There was only one person Ted Smith admitted to being afraid of, and she was mentioned by each of the five speakers at his funeral -- his wife Barb. Their 37-year marriage and love story was legendary. Friends and relatives who talked about his life all noted his devotion to the woman he met in college in Chicago. He asked Barb to marry him on their first date. His brother, Stephen Smith, called her his "finish carpenter" -- the person that helped smooth Ted's rough edges.
During his speech, Smith -- Ted's "baby brother" -- said he followed Ted's example of how to be a good husband. Steve followed in his brother's footsteps, moving to Alaska and joining the Anchorage Police Department. With eleven and a half years between them, Steve described an older brother who also was a father figure to him. Ted was a kind brother, he said, and even let him hang out with himself and his high school friends when Steve was just a kid.
Stephen was one of many law enforcement officers from the area to attend. Seven police officers sent Ted off with a 21-gun salute. A red helicopter circled above as white-gloved officers shot their rifles in unison three times. Inside, the church sanctuary was crowded. Extra chairs were brought in, yet still many people had to stand. People stood in the hallway listening to the service. Ted was an instructor and trainer in the police department, where he dedicated his time to modernizing the APD's firearms training program. He was known for saying, "We're the good guys. We gotta win the fight."
His brother Steve said, "he enjoyed life more than anyone I knew."
Ted Smith might be gone, but his legacy lives on with those that worked with him and those who loved him.