VisitationGearty-Delmore - Plymouth Chapel
Plymouth, Minnesota 55446
Jack Randall Smock died at his home in Plymouth, Minnesota on Wednesday, April 11, 2019 from a a heart attack. He was 84.
Jack was born on his family's farmstead in Tulsa, Oklahoma on August 4, 1934. He was the ninth of the ten children of Morgan and Bessie (Dunn) Smock.
Jack's ancestors were the early settlers of America. The first Smock arrived in New Amsterdam (now New York City) in the 17th century. Succeeding generations were primarily of Scotch-Irish descent. They fought in the Revolutionary War, then followed America's expanding frontier to Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas.
Jack's father Morgan moved from Texas to Oklahoma as a young man, met and married Bessie, and started a farm outside Tulsa. He also worked on the side as a stonemason. Jack's childhood was during the Great Depression. While his family was very poor, they never went hungry. Bessie walked her children to the Baptist church every Sunday, taught them never to swear, and conducted Bible studies with them at home. From first through eighth grade, Jack was educated at a 3-room country schoolhouse that he walked two miles to attend. He then attended and graduated from Tulsa Central High School, which had over 3,000 students.
While Jack always had some chores to perform on the farm, he loved athletics and found time for his school's softball, basketball and track & field teams. However, once his elder brothers were called to war in 1942, the rest of Jack's youth was filled with milking cows, cleaning hog pens, bailing and stacking hay, helping is father with their horse plow, and all the myriad tasks of a farm. Jack also assisted his father on stone masonry jobs. After graduation high school in 1952, Jack found a job as a marble setter while continuing to live and work at the family farmstead. But like most young men, he felt a restless urge to see the world outside of home.
In 1956 Jack and his good friend Bob Jones (d. 2013) decided to join the Army. After basic training, the Army assigned Jack to the intelligence unit and sent him to its renowned Language School in Monterrey, California (now known as the Defense Language Institute). There Jack spent eight months intensively learning Mandarin Chinese. Jack was then stationed in Taiwan, where he monitored Chinese army radio communications. He was so proficient in mandarin that while listening to Chinese communications he could simultaneously type out English translations.
In 1959 Jack an Bob's enlistment ended. Bob suggested they find work in Washington, D.C. because many single women lived there. Jack found that reasoning persuasive, and was soon working there as a salesman at Delmo's, one of the earliest discount stores.
One of the single women in Washington, D.C. was Heide Koppenwallner Amos, a German beauty who had emigrated to the Untied States at age eleven when her mother married and American. One night in 1961, while at a dance clubm Jack saw Heide sitting with a girlfriend and introduced himself. Upon been told Heide had a headache, he frantically searched the club and located and Alka-Seltzer for her. This act of gallantry earned him Heide's telephone number, but repeated calls calls seeking a date initially proved unsuccessful. (Jack later joked he almost dated Heide's sister, Elke, who would answer the phone.) Finally Heide relented, and began seeing Jack. They fell in love and were married in November 1961.
Around the same time, a manager of the Coleman camping-supply company visited Delmo's and was impressed by Jack's sales skills. Coleman offered Jack a position as a regional salesman in Oregon. In January 1962, the newlywed couple packed up and drove across the continent to Portland. Jack and Heide settled into a small house, where son Morgan (1962) and daughter Melinda (1964) were born. During these years, Jack traversed the state selling Coleman products to retailiers, proved himself a talented salesman, and was receiving job offers from competitors.
But Jack felt a different calling. During his long sales trips, Jack listened to radio evangelist Herbert Armstrong. Armstrong was the voice of the Worldwide Church of God (the WWC), a Christian sect he founded and headed. Amid the cultural upheaval of the 1960's, Armstrong preached clean living and adherence to scripture. As a young father, jack wanted his children raised with such values.
Jack joined the WWC in 1963 and gradually felt drawn to the ministry. In 1966, the family moved to Pasadena, California, where Jack attended Ambassador College. This was a four-year liberal arts college operated by the WWC, on on exquisitely manicured campus.
During their four years at Ambassador, Jack and Heide were poor but happy. Jack excelled in his studies and was appointed to direct the social activities of the college's married students. He coordinated frequent gatherings, group camping and field trip, and sing-alongs. As they watched their first two children grow, the young couple enjoyed the fellowship of student life.
When Jack graduated in 1969, the WWC selected him to be a minister. The family moved to Jack's first posting: Omaha, Nebraska, where Jack served as assistance pastor. Jack was loved by the Omaha congregation and he was deeply satisfied by his ministry. The family became complete in Omaha with the birth of son Jonathan (1970). Also in Omaha, Jack and Heide met Henry and Eva Oltmans, an Iowa farm couple who became lifelong friends.
In 1972 the WWC transferred Jack to Indianapolis, Indiana. There began a dark chapter of his life. In 1973 the WWC's ministry fell into turmoil as corruption was exposed in its top ranks. Jack became disillusioned with the WWC and left its ministry. With little money and no job in hand, he and Heide packed all the family's belongings into a U-Haul truck and drove to Minneapolis, where his old friend Bob Jones lived. A few months later Jack left the WWC entirely.
In Minnesota Jack initially embarked on a new career as a stockbroker with IDS (now known as Ameriprise). Then in 1974 the silver market entered a historic bubble and Jack became a broker with the Continental Silver company, selling silver bullion certificates. For several months Jack's financial dreams seemed realized. He was making nearly $50,000 a month, opened a lavishly furnished office, and would jet to Omaha for a haircut by his favorite barber, returning the same afternoon. However, the dream evaporated when the company's CEO absconded with its assets, leaving only a shell. Lawsuits ensued, and Jack used all the money he had made to reimburse investors he had dealt with.
During the remainder of the 1970's Jack worked hard in a variety of jobs and side-businesses to re-establish his family's financial footing. By 1977 the family was able to buy a house in New Hope, where his children spent their teenage years. During the early 1980's Jack distributed "Pep", a dietary food supplement, as a side business. Over the next few years that side business expanded into HMS., Inc., a small health food distribution company that Jack built into a reliable profit-maker. From the late 1980's until his retirement, running HMS was Jack's main occupation.
Jack and Heide remained close friends with the Oltmans, who had also quit the WWC. Every year the two families would vacation at a resort on Big McDonald Lake in northern Minnesota. Both families eventually bought cabins on the lake. One of Jack's greatest pleasures in life was sharing a scotch with Henry Oltmans while playing cards on a summer evening at the cabin, with loons calling in the background.
In 1991, with their children grown, Jack and Heide sold their New Hope house and settled into a smaller home in Plymouth, where Jack lived the remainder of his life. During the 2000's Jack wound down his working hours until he was fully retired. To the shock of his children, a man who had once forbidden dogs from entering the house, developed a deep affection for a house dog named Bailey.
In retirement Jack became more involved in the American Legion, serving on the governing board of his post (#523) for many years, and enjoying the post's social life. He also relished being a grandfather to Melinda's children Jackson (b. 1998) and Teagan (b. 2005). In his final years he developed a close friendship with Lois Brama, who shared his love of baseball, scripture, and singing and became a friend to Jack's whole family.
Jack never returned to organized religion after his disillusionment with the WWC in the 1970's. That event shook his faith for several years. But during the last quarter-century of his life, his faith found new life and steadily grew. In his retirement years Jack daily studied and read about the Bible, gave to Christian charities, and discussed spiritual matters with friends and family. According to a spiritually intimate friend, around age 80 Jack began to feel fully at peace with God and with his life, and continued in that peace until his death.
The last episode of Jack's life was perhaps its most astonishing. In January 2019, he collapsed unconscious and unbreathing on the floor of his home. Three days later, he was in intensive care unit diagnosed with congestive heart failure, continually delirious and with his life on the edge, when his heart began a massive spasm. Emergency cardiologists told the family he would die within minutes without extraordinary invasive measure, which the family declined in accordance with Jack's previously expressed wishes. The hospital chaplain joined the family prayers over Jack's dying body.
But Jack did not die. His heart slowly returned to a normal beat. Two hours later, the dozen family members and friends who had raced to the hospital to wish Jack a last good-bye stood around him in amazement. Jack was sitting up in bed, devouring scrambled eggs with ketchup, fully conscious, possessed of his faculties, and singing hymns. Over the next two months, as Jack recovered his strength, his family was blessed with the full opportunity to truly tell him how much they loved him.
Jack Saw the hand of God in this. Who are we to disagree?
Jack is survived by his loving wife, Heide; his children, Morgan, Melinda (Fisher) and Jonathan; his grandchildren, Jackson and Teagan Fisher; his sister, Floy Keil and brother, Paul; his sisters-in-law, Harriet Smock, and Marion Suski; and his brothers-in-law, Thomas and Joseph Amos.