KENDALL CRAIG SMITH
(February 16, 1939-February 11, 2017)
Kendall embodied the essence of these inspirational words; “A Winner Never Quits and a Quitter Never Wins …” one of his cherished quotes. He used them often to motivate anyone that needed encouragement. In fact, many of Mr. Smith’s quotes are embedded in this tribute fallowing his passing caused by respiratory disease.
Born in Haverhill, MA, February 16, 1939, the only son of the late Clifton and Gertrude Smith, he was predeceased by his younger sister Susan Craig (Smith) Silva (1998). Raised in Groveland, MA, by his single mother, Ken had to quickly learn the importance of hard work at an early age, to help provide for his mother and sister. This set the stage for a life of determination, perseverance and generosity; and he never quit. It was this winning and encouraging spirit that touched so many lives. Mr. Smith and his family resided in Kingston, NH for the past forty years.
Kendall met his wife, Evelyn Mae (Ralph) Smith, as they both graduated in 1956 from Georgetown’s Perley High School. In October of 2016, they were married for 55 years. Together, they have two children, five grandchildren and one great grandchild. Family members are; daughter, Kimberly Craig (Smith) of Chagrin Falls Ohio and son, Craig William Smith and wife, Mary-Teresa (Johnson) Smith of Roswell, Georgia. Grandchildren are; Tyler Craig Shea of Kingston, NH, Colby Amelia Shea of Charleston, SC, Logan Oliver Shea of Chagrin Falls, OH, Kyle William Smith of Athens, GA and Austin Craig Smith of Roswell, GA. Mr. Smith had one great granddaughter, Kendall Rye Cunnington, of Charleston, SC, as well as two-goddaughters, Julie (Holbrook) Lichtman of Windham, NH and Sarah (Ralph) Stockbridge of Groveland, MA.
“Work Hard…Don’t Give Up”
After earning an Associate’s Degree in 1958 from Bentley School of Accounting in Boston. Mr. Smith began his 52-year banking career at the former Merrimack Valley National Bank, in Andover, MA. Starting in the basement floor, processing checks by hand in the Proof Department, his hard work ethic didn’t let him down as he rose through the ranks. When the bank became Bay Bank Merrimack Valley, Mr. Smith was appointed Vice President until 1982, when he was hired by Granite State Bank in Somersworth, NH, as its Vice President. On March 5, 1984, Mr. Smith was hired as Executive Vice President of the Pentucket Bank in Haverhill, MA, where he would work for the next 26 years. He was brought to the bank by then-President Ed Cote, who started his career on the very same day with Ken in 1958.
Mr. Smith went on to become the President of Pentucket Bank, Chief Executive Officer and Director of the Board of Investment. Under his leadership, Pentucket Bank grew to become Greater Haverhill’s leading financial institution, owning the largest market share in the region. Pentucket Bank continuously earned a 5-Star superior rating from Bauer-Financial, Inc., the nation’s independent banking research firm. Mr. Smith retired as President and Chief Executive Officer in June of 2010. He continued serving as Chairman of the Board, Trustee, Corporator and Advisor.
One of Ken’s favorite quotes was this; “Some people think it’s nice to be important, but I think it’s important to be nice.”
Kindness, loyalty and generosity were the very fiber of Ken’s character, which started at a young age. Mr. Smith’s volunteer time and charitable contributions benefitted numerous charities throughout the Greater Haverhill Community.
His many honors and awards recognized selfless acts serving the needs of people from various ages and all walks of life. Kendall, and his wife, voluntarily served as the Sanborn Regional School Treasurer for over 25 years (1969-1994). In 1999, he was chosen Salvation Army’s, ‘Man of the Year.’ The following year, Mr. Smith was honored with the American Red Cross ‘McCallum Humanitarian Award’ given to individuals whose efforts make our community a better place to live and work. Ken lived by The Boy Scout Motto: Be prepared; Do your duty; and Do a good turn daily. Perhaps this helped him earn the Boy Scouts of America, “Distinguished Citizen Award” in 2002.
During 2003-2004, Mr. Smith was the Haverhill Rotary President, under which he led a fundraising drive to build a stone sign for Winnekenni Castle. For these efforts, he earned the “Paul Harris Fellow Award” presented by The Rotary Club to a member who has contributed selflessly for the betterment of their community. In 2005, The Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce presented Mr. Smith with the “Business Person of the Year” award.
Along with Pentucket Bank, Kendall was a yearly participant and financiaJ donor to Haverhill’s annual VFW Santa Parade as well as an on-site participant in the Haverhill Gazette Santa Fund ‘Hole-In-One’ event. Mr. Smith was on the Board of the Veterans North East Outreach of Haverhill, MA. He was awarded the Liberty Bell Plaque in 2010, annually given by Haverhill’ s Bar Association to a “non-lawyer in recognition for service to the community.” He was a member of the NECCO Foundation Board and participated in the Mayor’s Breakfast. He was an Advisory Board Member of the Greater Haverhill Foundation, Inc. and contributing member of the Groveland Historical Society. Mr. Smith made numerous radio appearances over WHAV on the “Open Mike Show” with Tim Coco, discussing racing, banking and history of his beloved Greater Haverhill.
When Nothing Goes Right…Go Left
A lifelong passion for auto racing eventually landed Ken in the New England Racing Hall of Fame in 2006. He devoted much of his life to racing. Starting once again from the bottom up, he sold popcorn and programs at The Pines Speedway. He was a soap box derby champion in Groveland and even drove cars in the woods behind his house. He had a brief race driving career and wrote his own racing column for The Haverhill Gazette.
It was in these early years where Ken became a devoted fan of the late racing legend Ollie Silva, also a racing Hall-of-Famer. He developed a friendship with Silva and was best man when Silva married Ken’s sister, Susan, in 1972.
Ken’s zest for racing led him to join dear friend and colleague, Russ Conway, of Haverhill, MA, as well as the late Charlie Elliott. Together with car-owners and drivers, they formed the New England Super-Modified Racing Association (NESMRA) in 1965. Ken was its only General Manager and guided the group to become a highly recognized racing organization. The group traveled from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Hialeah, FL, operating over 1,000 racing events and over 10,000 actual races between 1965-1999. Over the years, NESMRA paid out more than $6 million in prize money.
Cars with Flames go Faster than Cars Without
Among the “Home” speedways that Ken and NESMRA operated were; Star Speedway, Epping, NH; Lee Raceway, Lee, NH; Hudson Speedway, Hudson, NH, Lee USA Speedway, Lee, NH, and Canaan Fairgrounds Speedway, Canaan, NH. Along the way, his wife and kids would support him whether it be selling in the ticket booth, or taking tickets at the gate. Eventually, Ken managed to turn a few of his
grandchildren onto to the sport as well. NESMRA operated numerous car shows as well as snowmobile races, concerts and boxing events. Mr. Smith was co-founder of the Florida Winter National Series, Yankee All-Star League for Modifieds, the Canadian Super-Modified Tour. In 1970, NESMRA reorganized the annual “World Series of Speedway Racing” with Thompson Speedway owner, Don Hoenig.
Each year, Ken was a highly passionate, active organizer and donor to the annual Pines Speedway Reunion in Groveland, MA. He participated as a Selection Committee Member and this past October was elected as an Honoree himself. Ken was a long-time member of the New England Auto Racers Inc., and the Senior Tour Auto Racers.
Mr. Smith was a founding member, major contributor, Treasurer and Executive Board Member of the North East Motorsports Museum, a new 10,000-square foot home for historical race cars, memorabilia and decades of racing history. The building is located at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, in Loudon, NH. Opening ceremonies for this special museum will be in June, 2017.
A Fun Way of Life
“That’s the trouble with the world, too many people grow up…” -Walt Disney’s line was another Ken favorite. Mr. Smith adored children. He was never shy to tell an animated story that he would make up on the spot. Children would gather around and be mesmerized by his voices and tales that often included their names.
A well known love of Ken’s was the magic of Mickey Mouse and Disney. Arriving with his wife and children at Walt Disney World the first year it opened in 1972, Ken was fascinated with that wonderment started by just a mouse, a dream and an imagination. From that time forward, Ken had an affection and passion for anything Disney.
Visiting Disney World numerous times over the years with his wife and family, wearing Mickey Mouse lapel pins on his business suits on a daily basis. He purchased two six-foot stuffed Mickey and Minnie Mouse figures that sat in his Pentucket Bank President’s office. He would be seen wearing oversized white gloves with three fingers, just like Mickey. While participating in many local parades, Ken would decorate his 1974 Corvette, pump up the music and wear a Mickey Mouse costume while his teen-aged children, their friends, other family, bank or racing helpers volunteered to wear many other Disney costumes.
Keep Learning and Practice
Mr. Smith believed education opened the doors to people of all backgrounds. He considered the key to success was education and placed a high value on it. Mr. Smith often said that if he did not pursue a career in banking, he would have liked to have been a teacher. In fact, his mother, sister and daughter all worked for school systems in Greater Haverhill. Mr. Smith frequently invited the school children of Haverhill to take field trips to Pentucket Bank to learn the importance about money and savings. He often treated classes to lunch after touring the famous Pentucket Bank Vault. In April 2006, The Haverhill Foundation for Excellence in Education held, ” An Evening to Roast and Toast Ken Smith,” as a fundraiser, with 300 people in attendance.
Respect, Responsibility, Reliability
Family time often included sound advice to the youngest of ears that were listening to Ken. He never missed an opportunity to instill a value to his children, grandchildren or any young face that was listening.
For 51 years, Ken and Evelyn took their family to their annual beach retreat at Jenness Beach, Rye, NH. Ken was affectionately known as the Mayor of Jenness Beach, where he sat atop his ocean-front perch. Friends and beach-goers would find a smiling pal with quick wit and humor. He would share his many stories, quotes, jokes, lessons learned, business facts, racing statistics, open-minded knowledge, opinion and lectures. He treated everyone he met fairly, with respect and with an open mind. He believed, no matter how educated, talented, wealthy or cool you were, how you treat people tells everything about your integrity.
Do Great Things …But Stay Humble
Mr. Smith was a proud man. Proud of his devoted family, his dedicated employees of the Pentucket Bank, his loyal racing peers and fans, his charitable colleagues and faithful friends. Whether he was making good turns daily on the track of life or making left-hand turns on the race track, Kendall personified a larger than life, magnetic character to all that knew, admired, loved and adored him.
Memorial Services: Calling Hours, Tuesday, June 6, 2017 between 2-4pm and 5-Bpm at the Paul C. Rogers Family Funeral Home, 334 Main St., Haverhill, MA.
A Celebration of Life will be held Wednesday, June 7, 2017 between 4-8 pm at DiBurro’s Function Facility in Ward Hill, MA.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Mr. Smith’s honor, may be made to the following:
*Emmaus House Inc.- Attn: Gretchen Arntz, P.O. Box 568, Haverhill, MA 01831
*Kendall Craig Smith Scholarship Fund- Attn: Tracy Parker, Haverhill High School, 137 Monument St., Haverhill, MA 01832
*The North East Motorsports Museum- Attn: NEMSM, 7 Bayview Rd., Ipswich, MA 01938
*The Northern Essex Community College Foundation- Attn: Jean Poth, 100 Elliott St., Haverhill, MA 01830
*The Pines Speedway Reunion- Attn: Claire Walsh, PO Box 178, Groveland, MA 01834
*Rotary Club of Haverhill- Attn: Bill Kleuber, P.O. Box 808, Haverhill, MA 01831
BY Al Fini
In 2016 Fred Ciavola and I were invited to put on a presentation representing the history of the Big E racetrack which operated from 1917 to 1968. That exhibit was so popular that John Juliano, director of the Special Events Dept. of the Big E reached out and asked if NEAR could hold a still show on the Avenue of States on Sunday October 1, 2018.
They requested our Mobile Museum (they will pay our normal display fee of $250.00) and up to 15 racecars which will be displayed on the road across from the State buildings which is their most popular attraction meaning that over 50,000 Fair attendees will visit our display of the history of New England Auto racing.
All the NEAR members coming with the display cars will receive free admission. You must arrive before 8 AM and the cars will be on display until 4 PM at which time the Security Dept will escort us back to the parking lot where you can load and leave. If there is enough interest we will schedule an autograph session, with Hall of Fame members
PLAN ON ENJOYING A DAY AT NEW ENGLAND’S GREAT STATE FAIR
We must have a minimum of 8 cars or the event will be canceled and the Board of Directors indicated if we have that many cars it will be a points show. You must contact Al Fini, (413-896-4764, email@example.com) or Steve Zukowski, (860-6388841) by May 15. If you plan on attending.
If this is successful I believe it could be an annual event.
Please click on NEAR Schedule button for the 2017 Schedule updated on 3/12/17.
Please direct any additions, deletions, pictures, or copy for the website, to
Rich Goucher at firstname.lastname@example.org
A few points of interest and importance
The schedule now posted is updated and correct and differs from the one posted in the last news letter.
Twin State asked to be called Claremont Speedway that was corrected per the request of the Speedway who is gracious to host an event for us.
The date of the Norwood reunion has been corrected
The date of the Plainville reunion has been changed
This year the event will take place in September on the 23rd
If you want to display your call at the Thompson Ice breaker Commencing March 31 Please contact Jim Williams as the space is very limited although it would be nice to see a mixture of vehicles showing the coupes and coaches as well as the Vegas and Pintos A few flatheads and six cylinder would make a nice display
Summer Knights Sunday April 30 at the Berlin Fair Grounds
If you don’t have a race car or it is not yet ready for display bring your street car or hot rod. Motorcycles are also welcome
This is a charity fundraising event come out and show your iron, shake off the dust of the winter and soak up the sunshine. Enjoy the day and help John and his crew raise money for several good causes
There will be raffles, prizes, and a swap or sale area and food.
Courtesy of Nick Teto(Yankee Racer.com)
Word arrived from Florida that 1999 New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame inductee Leo Cleary has passed away at age-88.
Upon hearing of the news, award-winning Hall of Fame auto racing journalist Pete Zanardi stated the following; “Leo, from Massachusetts, was truly one of New England’s short track pioneers with a career stretching all the way back to the days of early tracks such as Dracut, Groveland, Topsfield, West Peabody, Medford Bowl, Norwood Arena, and Westboro. He raced and won all over the region, and was always in high-demand with the best teams. His era included some of the greatest names in the history of modified racing.”
Arrangements are incomplete at this time. The entire NEAR family extends its sincere condolences to Leo’s family & many friends.
Below is an excerpt from his New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame Biography. Accompanying photos are courtesy of the Dave Dykes’ Racing Through Time website.
Ask most retired drivers what tracks they raced at, and you might get the name of one, two or maybe a half dozen tracks. Ask Leo “The Lion” Cleary and you had better have some time to listen. Leo competed at the Medford Bowl, Lonsdale, Norwood, Catamount, and Westboro. Among active tracks, he raced at Thompson, Seekonk, Stafford, Martinsville, Oswego, Waterford, and New Smyrna, along with several others.
In his 44 years behind the wheel, Cleary took down 14 track championships, including the Norwood Arena, Seekonk, and Thompson. These championships have come behind the wheel of jalopies, cutdowns, full coupes, modifieds, pro-stocks, and mini modifieds.
At age 58, when most people are busy planning their retirement, Cleary was busy planning his season at Seekonk, where he took down the 1986 pro stock championship. The next year, the 59-year-old Cleary switched to mini modifieds, again winning the Seekonk Championship. When Aetna Insurance transferred Cleary to Florida in 1988, most people, including Leo himself, figured that was the end of his racing. That’s when Vic Kangus convinced him to hop into his Florida modified, which he drove until 1993, when, at age 63, he suffered four broken ribs, and hung up his helmet for good.
Leo Cleary’s career spanned six decades. He has progressed from the early stock jalopies to the modern mini mods, pro stocks, and modifieds.
From Louis Modestino:
Just got the word from Ed Gendreau about the Leo Cleary Memorial that will be held at the McGoun-Biggins Funeral Home on 135 Union St. in Rockland, MA 02370 next Friday, March 3 from 5-8 pm. Expect to see a lot racing folks turn out for this memorial because Leo had a lot of fans and friends.
Sources: Dave Dykes/NEAR PR