William J "Bill" Smith of Hazleton passed away on October 28, 2017, surrounded by his loved ones. He was born on August 24, 1930, the son of William Russell Smith and Emma Nitka Smith. He grew up in Drifton and Freeland. At an early age he found his great passion for remote-controlled model airplanes. As with everything important to Bill, he brought his energy, precision, and attention to detail to his beloved hobby. His fascination with flying grew and he obtained his private pilot's license.
He also loved baseball and played second base both in school and as a professional in the minor league during his high school summers. He hit more than a few fast balls out of the park. At 16 he was offered a contract with the Chicago White Sox, but turned it down so that he could complete his high school education at MMI.
Ham radio was another passion. His call letters were K30ZK.
Bill began working at Weatherly Foundry while still at MMI. After MMI, he continued at Weatherly Foundry full-time until called upon to serve his country during the Korean War as an intelligence officer and a pilot. He attained the rank of Major.
After the war he attended Lehigh University, where he earned a BS in Metallurgical Engineering. While at Lehigh he met, fell in love with, and married Philibena Sippel.
Upon graduation, he continued working full-time at Weatherly Foundry, and was hand-picked by George Wilmot to succeed Mr. Wilmot as president of the Foundry. He served as president for over a decade. His innovative ideas led to three patents.
Later he started a consulting firm, WeMet Engineering, and was also asked to become president of Wilmot Engineering. He served his community as a Director at the Hazleton National Bank and his industry as a Director at Redding Engineering.
After retiring in the mid 1990's Bill was able to spend more time with his growing family.
He is survived by his wife, Philibena, four daughters and their husbands: Debbie and Kevin Riley, Karen and Lynn Bigelow, Nancy and Pete Biddle, and Linda and Doug Hackett. He was a loving Grandpap to eight grandchildren and one grand daughter-in-law: David Bigelow, Andrew and Emily Bigelow, Laura Bigelow, Elizabeth Bigelow, Jamie Biddle, Timmy Biddle, Erin Hackett, and Jill Hackett.
He had fun with his planes, kept his country safe, forged new ideas in the iron industry, and made his family proud.