LARRY DWAIN “SMITTY” SMITH, LOCAL 40
The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers lost a dear friend and Brother Boilermaker on September 5, 2016, when Brother Larry Dwain Smith passed away at the age of 71 after a 35 plus year battle with Muscular Dystrophy.
Dwain, also known as “Smitty,” became a member of Boilermakers Local 40 in December of 1967 as an indentured apprentice, graduating the training program in October of 1970 and continuing his union membership for the next 39 years. In 1979, he was appointed to represent Boilermakers Local 40 as an Assistant Business Manager by then BM-ST Daniel Everett. He continued at this position until he was forced to seek retirement in 1983 due to his continuing battle with Muscular Dystrophy. In 1993, he was the recipient of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers National Recognition Award after being nominated by his peers for his dedication to improving training methods and educational programs for the further advancement of the Boilermaker craftsmen.
In 1985, he started his 29-year career as an apprentice training instructor for Local 40. During this time, he touched the lives of more than 500 apprentices, constantly striving to educate them about the importance of keeping up with the latest technological advances and the ever-changing construction industry. Many of his developed training methods and educational guidelines are still widely used today by Boilermaker training centers throughout the country.
He started painting in 2002 to exercise and maintain the use of his hands and arms. Just like everything else he attempted in life, he gave it his all and became a very accomplished Renaissance-style artist. He was one of only a few people I have ever known with the ability to take a vision in his mind and transfer it to paper, canvas or even a computer screen, but even rarer was his desire to teach others how to accomplish the same. In January of 2004, he donated one of his mural paintings to the membership of Local 40, and the mural is still on display in our local training center. Throughout his instructing career, he and his wife, Margie, worked with various apprentices and other instructors to decorate and transform our local training center into a jobsite-like museum. I would invite any member to drop by our office location and tour our facility if you are ever passing through Elizabethtown, Kentucky.
In 2003, the membership of Local 40 unanimously voted to dedicate our newly constructed apprenticeship classroom training building in his name, now known as the “L. D. Smith Training Center.” He wrote the following in a letter to the membership after receiving notice of the membership’s action: “Our organization is only as strong as the sum of its parts; the generosity that its members demonstrate by sharing their own knowledge, skills and work ethic with others will ensure that our organization remains strong for the future. I have endeavored to live with the premise that one must give something back for what one has received in life.” He wholeheartedly lived up to his lifelong premise.
I will always remember Dwain as a perfectionist with a heart as big as a giant’s and a smile that could light up a whole room. He had the personal belief that “knowledge is power” and did his best to instill that belief in his students. He always encouraged apprentices to pursue excellence as a Boilermaker craftsman, to be a leader in the field and be proud of their accomplishments. He inspired them to become the kind of member the union needs, not a member that needs the union. He will be dearly missed by all of our members and this entire organization.