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Scholarship honors victims of duck boat tragedy


A widow’s wish is coming true.

Pam Smith tragically lost her husband and son in late July. Steve Smith, 53, a deacon of the Osceola Church of Christ in eastern Arkansas, and Lance Smith, 15, both died in the July 19 duck boat sinking at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Mo.

Seventeen of the 31 passengers on board the boat drowned. Another member of the Smith family, Loren Smith, 14, escaped from the sinking boat and made it to shore.

Loren, Steve, Lance and Pam Smith

Shortly after the tragedy, Smith told CBS News she wanted her husband and son to be remembered “for their Christian walk.” Now, thanks to a newly formed scholarship, that will happen.


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The Lance and Steve Smith Excellence of Christian Character Memorial Scholarship has been established at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn. University officials say it will be awarded to incoming students who “possess a servant’s attitude and demonstrate excellent Christian character by participating in missions and community service.”

The fund was initiated by Pam Smith and her daughter, Loren, along with Will Hester, minister for the Osceola church, and his wife, Sarah.

“Steve was a man of humility who always put everyone else ahead of himself. He was always thinking of how he could help others,” Hester said. “He was a wonderful man to be around. He had a compassionate heart.”

“We want it to be a reminder of how they lived their lives, and perhaps folks will follow their example.”

Steve Smith was a retired elementary school teacher. His son, Lance, would have been a ninth-grader at Osceola High School this fall and had just recently been baptized.

“We hope this scholarship keeps the memory of Steve and Lance alive,” Hester said. “We want it to be a reminder of how they lived their lives, and perhaps folks will follow their example.”

Also among the victims in the duck boat tragedy were nine members of the Coleman family from Indiana, including 76-year-old Ray Coleman, an usher for the Kingsley Terrace Church of Christ in Indianapolis.

Contributions to the scholarship fund may be made to the Osceola Church of Christ, 421 West Semmes Avenue, Osceola, AR 72370 or the Freed-Hardeman University advancement office, 158 East Main Street, Henderson, TN 38340.

Filed under: duck boat duck boat tragedy Features News People Top Stories

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