Burnell J. 'B.J.' Smith
Burnell J. Smith (known by all as “BJ”), 98, of Meadville, PA, passed away on June 21, 2018 at Wesbury, Meadville, PA.
He was born August 18, 1919 in Sunbury, PA to Delvin B. Smith and Viola (Reed) Smith. He married Loismarie Cobb on August 18, 1942. She preceded him in death on November 5, 2012.
BJ graduated from public school in Harrisburg, PA and attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.
BJ served in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a Flight Engineer during World War II, spending most of his time on B-17s and B-29s. He was honorably discharged in February, 1946 at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. According to BJ, “It is my firm belief that every young person should serve a term in the ‘Service’. This is the one training for LIFE that no college can give.”
Following BJ’s discharge from the Army Air Corps, he started his career in the insurance business in Harrisburg in 1946 as a Special Agent. He and Loismarie moved to Meadville, PA in 1951 to enter a partnership as an independent agent forming the Batchlet-Smith Agency. After the acquisition of several agencies, the name was changed in 1974 to Associated Agencies, Inc. with offices in Meadville, Oil City and Linesville, PA. He served as President of the Corporation until it was sold in 1982.
In 1962, BJ was elected Secretary/Manager of the Crawford County Motor Club, AAA. In 1974, it merged with the Venango County Motor Club to form the Allegheny Automobile Association. In 1983 it merged with the Elk/Cameron County Motor Club AAA bringing the merged membership to over 27,000. He continued to serve as President/General Manager until retirement in August, 1984. However, BJ stayed on as a “Go For”, continuing to report daily and staying involved with its many facets, including Service, Civic, State Committees and Organizations.
In 1974 the World Wide Travel Agency Inc. was organized with offices in Meadville and Oil City, adding St. Mary’s in 1981, with BJ as President. At his retirement, the agency was producing over $2.5 million in travel business and $4 million in American Express Travelers’ Cheques annually.
BJ maintained that Selling is the “Greatest Profession” and that he was a proud “Peddler” all of his life. He was well known for his dapper dress, no matter the occasion.
BJ and his wife, Loismarie enjoyed cruising, taking 24 cruises between 1971 and 2008.
During his lifetime, BJ was the recipient of many awards, including National Man of the Year awarded by the American Society of Highway Engineers in 1989, the Distinguished Kiwanian Award from 1989-1991, the Kent Shaeffer Award for “Lifetime of Service to Aviation” from the PA Bureau of Aviation in 2002 and the Governor Shafer/Allegheny College Man of the Year Award 2004-2005. He served on many boards, including the American Red Cross-Allegheny Region Chapter, Wesbury, PNC Bank Advisory Board, First National Bank of Pennsylvania, the Iroquois Club and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Advisory Committee.
B.J. was a 50 year member of the Masonic Blue Lodge of Harrisburg, Masonic Bodies, including 22 Shrine. He was also a past member of American Legion Post #648 (1946), American Red Cross (1952), American Society of Engineers (1965), Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Valley of Erie (1956), Boots and Saddles (1957), Crawford County Shrine Club (1956), Crawford County Shrine Motor Patrol, F.&A.M. of PA, Robert Burns Lodge #0464 Harrisburg, PA (1946), Fraternal Order of Eagles, Meadville, PA (1951), Golden K Kiwanis Club of Meadville (2006), IATA International Association Travel Agents (1970), Iroquois Boating and Fishing Club, Conneaut Lake, PA (1965), Meadville Chamber of Commerce (1952), Meadville Kiwanis Club (1952), Meadville Public Library, Meadville Area YMCA (1954), LOOM Moose Capital Area Lodge PA #107 (1939), Round Table (1961), SCORE, and Zem Zem Shriners of Erie (1959).
BJ was an active member of the First Presbyterian Church in Meadville.
At B.J.’s request, there will be no viewing or services.
Arrangements are under the direction of HATHEWAY-TEDESCO FUNERAL HOME & CREMATORY, 614 BALDWIN STREET, MEADVILLE, PA 16335.