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Headstring News
Pool World Loses Friend In Ken ‘Smitty’ Smith
Feb 6, 2007, 10:31 AM

The following is an obituary provided by Billie Billing
January 29, 2007:

In loving memory of Ken ‘Smitty’ Smith...

The year was 1960 when a breath of fresh air named Ken ‘Smitty’ Smith walked into a pool room for the first time. And January 16, 2007 was a gloomy day indeed when he walked into the ‘heavenly’ pool room where eventually we all will go. The notorious Johnson City Open was his first spectator event. It was there that he started on his 40 year long volunteer service as a ‘gofer’ for the players. A player who loved the game for the game’s sake, a recreational player at best, but all who knew him would agree he was the ultimate billiard fan. Smitty was one of those pool detectives who hovered over the pool tournaments at the highest bleacher seats. “Yea, the foolish pay for the most expensive seats up front, never realizing the greatest view is from the crow’s nest,” Smitty would educate the newcomers. That is, when he wasn’t making himself available to meet all the players’ needs.

Whether it was the BCA U S Open, the PPPA World Open, the Legends, and tournaments too numerous to mention, Smitty was there. New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Las Vegas, California…Smitty was there. Understanding that there was little to no prize money, there were many times Smitty took 20 + players out for a meal. If you ever played in one of those events and put a little Johnson & Johnson (unscented, of course) on your hands, you owed it to Smitty. Any player who took a sip of water during his/her match knew Smitty was there. Need a little 600 sandpaper? No worries, Smitty was there, with a smile on his face and whatever you needed in his hands.

“Smitty was all about the players”, his daughter Debbie Smith explained to all his friends at the wake at Leber Funeral Home in Hoboken, NJ. But everybody already knew that. He had dedicated many years to pool and billiard players. That’s why in 1993, he received a plaque from the players at the PPPA World Open at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, commemorating his devotion to all of them.

As mentioned earlier, he was not a great player, but an awesome mentor and teacher to many who sought out his understanding of the beautiful, exciting sport of billiards. And not just of pocket billiards, he knew 3-cushion and many other billiard games. Smitty always shared his knowledge. He understood the game to its depths. He could have been a contender if he had started earlier than age 50. “The nerves always go first”, he would say when watching, and sympathizing, with one of the greats like Lassiter or Crane at the Legends Tournament in Atlantic City. The comment was another piece of insight for the enthusiastic student. If you expected longevity in the game, learn the tricks to controlling your fears as well as building your familiarity of the physics of the sports. Smitty was a sports psychologist and always added a chapter about controlling your emotions in his tutelage.

By trade he was a line a type operator for the Sorg Printing Company in NY, NY. And all his spare time was spent in pool rooms or at tournaments where he watched and thrived on his favorite sport. After all, he lived to be ninety because of his great attitude and something to live for…pool.

Smitty is survived by his daughter, Debbie, and grandson Christopher Smith, and his loving grand-daughter, Jennifer Mullarney.

Truly, if you knew him, you’re missing him now.

The following statement was provided by WPBA officials:

"The WPBA was greatly saddened to hear that longtime supporter and fan, Ken "Smitty" Smith passed away. He was an avid supporter and friend to the WPBA and women's pool. Thanks Smitty for your time, dedication, and attention to the players and the sport. Our condolences to his daughter Debbie, who played on the tour for many years. The pool world has lost a good friend."