Claremore Coach and CPS employees; Long time First Baptist Church members
John Smith was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on May 11, 1932, to Ada Gazelle and John Hartley Smith. He and his mother moved to Claremore after his father’s passing when he was two. An old feed store was moved onto the property and converted into a house located at the corner of Cherokee Street and 11th where John developed a close bond with his Mother.
John graduated from Claremore High School in 1950 where he was a standout athlete in football, baseball and basketball. He was selected as the first All State baseball player from Claremore. He attended college at NEO A&M in Miami, Oklahoma where he played football and baseball and then moved to Northeastern College where he played baseball and football, graduating in 1954 with a major in Education and later, his Master’s degree. In 1955, he went to basic training in the US Army stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas.
John first met the love of his life, Lawanda June Ivie, while visiting the soda fountain counter at Will Roger’s Sundry where she worked. While on military leave, John proposed to June and they were married the next day. They had two children, John and Jeff and were married for over 66 years. After their sons were raised, June went to work for Billie Heiligman with Claremore Public Schools to help pay for the boy’s college expenses.
John and June both had a love for the City of Claremore, living here almost 90 years. He and June were members of the First Baptist Church of Claremore. John loved quail hunting and bass fishing, but later in life became an avid crappie fisherman. June was active at First Baptist where she taught Sunday School for many years.
June proceeded John in passing away on August 24, 2022. John died a few months later on March 3, 2023.