Jene Smith, 79, of Ft. Atkinson, died Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, at Wellington Place Nursing Home in Decorah. A Memorial Mass is at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 6, St. John's Catholic Church in Fort Atkinson, with Rev. Nick March officiating. Organist is Jeanette Dietzenbach. Cantor is Dan Silhacek. St. John's Choir will sing "Here I am, Lord," "Amazing Grace," "We Remember," "Goin' Home" and "Peace is Flowing Like a River." Lector is John Wiest. Offertory giftbearers are Jene's grandchildren: Karla, Erica, Amber, Rachelle and Matthew. Eucharistic ministers are Sue Hackman, Leon Kipp and Margaret Riha. Honorary casketbearers are members of the Fort Atkinson Class of 1952. Urn bearers are Lyle, Wayne, Joel and Marianne. Interment is at St. John's Catholic Cemetery in Fort Atkinson. Arrangements are being handled by Schluter - Balik Funeral Home, Chekal Chapel, Fort Atkinson.
Jene Joseph Smith was born March 19, 1934, the son of John and Anna (Maruska) Smith near Fort Atkinson. Jene attended and graduated from Fort Atkinson High School in 1952. After graduation, Jene signed a contract to play professional baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals, where he played for their farm team as a pitcher and had a very good fastball. His baseball career was cut short when his father died, and he returned to Fort Atkinson to take over the farming operation. Jene was united in marriage to Arlene Kuennen June 18, 1955, at St. Luke's Catholic Church in St. Lucas. Together they had four children: Lyle, Wayne, Marianne and Joel. Jene was married to Marvelene (Balk) Schmitt at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Waucoma Nov. 18, 2000. Over the years Jene enjoyed farming with his sons, auctions, day trips, as well as attending his grandchildren's activities and sporting events. He was also known as a professional "story teller" and liked to recall stories of the past. Jene was a member of St. John's Catholic Church, Catholic Order of Foresters and the Fort Atkinson Historical Society. He also served on the board of directors for the Farmer's Co-op and Citizen's Savings Bank.
Jene's survivors include his wife, Marvelene Schmitt, Ft. Atkinson; Jene's four children: Lyle (Denise) Smith, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Wayne (Susan) Smith, Ft. Atkinson; Marianne (Larry) Huinker, Calmar; and Joel (Gina) Smith, Ft. Atkinson; Marvelene's three children: Ernie (Lana) Schmitt, Waucoma; Marlys (Robert) Smith, Marshalltown; and Gary (Tami) Schmitt, Waucoma; 15 grandchildren: Bobbi Smith, Jason (Tiffany) Smith, Karla Smith, Erica (Ben) Tietz, Amber Smith, Rachelle Smith, Matthew Smith, Eric Schmitt, Jordan Schmitt, Brian Schmitt, Ben (Shauna) Smith, Madelyn Smith, Kyle (Laura) Schmitt, Kelsey Schmitt and Kara Schmitt; three great-grandchildren: Brooklyn and Brett Smith and Flynn Heying; one sister, Joan Wurzer, Milwaukee, Wis.; sisters- and brothers-in-law: Betty Smith, Yuma, Colo.; Cathy (Robert) Balik, Kalamazoo, Mich.; Kenneth Kuennen, Decorah; Wayne MacPherson, Strongsville, Ohio.
Jene was preceded in death by his parents, John and Anna (Maruska) Smith; his first wife, Arlene (Kuennen) Smith, Aug. 18, 1998; one brother, Virgil Smith; four sisters: Alma Smith, Rosella (John) Cassata, Cleone Smith and Martha MacPherson; sister-in-law, Lorraine Kuennen; brother-in-law, Marv Kuennen.