American Veteran 04

Francis Eldon "Smitty" Lebkeucher

August 8, 1936 ~ May 10, 2022 (age 85)


I would say that most people do not get the opportunity to write their own obituary. You are reading mine by my own hand, every one eventually dies, well almost every one; the Scriptures tell us that Ezekiel didn't because of a fiery chariot. But for most of us it is as natural as being born. Death is a part of life.

That being so let me say right up front that I do not want you to morn for me that I have gone on but celebrate the fact that I did live. Don't cry for me because my life here is over, celebrate the fact that I did live. In truth I have had myself a total ball in this life. I have had a really good marriage and we had ourselves some really wonderful children and grand children and even great grandchildren. Not to say that there were not some hitches on occasion but all in all it has really been wonderful. Of course I haven't made the journey alone. My wonderful wife Vicki Sue Doran of so many wonderful years has made the trip along with me.

I have to say that my life began at a very early age. My first real memories are of me standing in the front seat of our Chevy watching my dad bleed into a five gallon bucket with my mom sitting beside him, then my wonderful aunt Pauline lifting me up to look into the casket of my father. My father died when I was but three years old. My sister was only nine months old when my mom had to take on raising two young children. Mom remarried when I was six and because of that my life took on another direction. Had my own father lived I have no doubt that I would have become a farmer and most likely a very successful one because my dad was already a leader in the county.

As I said my life took on a different path. Because of the 'war' we moved to Michigan and my step dad worked in a 'defense plant'. It was a long train ride from where we lived in Illinois to Holly Michigan. I remember riding the train to Chicago, taking a cab across town to another train station and then on to Detroit and on to Holly several times over the next two to two and a half years. At the end of the war we moved back to Illinois and my sister Linda and I took the train almost every weekend to our grandmother's.

When I was nine the family drove route sixty-six from St Louis to Los Angeles California where my stepfather's mother, sister and brother lived. When I was thirteen I went to work on a farm for my uncle Loren McNeely and did so for that year and the next. That was where I was cutting corn out of a bean field when out of the blue the Lord called me to be a preacher. Yeah a preacher, not a pastor or a minister, but a preacher. Plain as day it was. I know that a lot of you are going to say this is strange and not really true, but it was. It really happened. So that became the direction of my life from that point on. Because of my calling I took a trip to the South for the first time in my life. Mom and I and preacher Spencer, Marilyn and Veda and I and two of the deacons from our church all went to Ridgecrest North Carolina for a couple weeks. I have to add while at Baptist camp I met a girl. I know that doesn't surprise anyone who knows even a little about me. The reason I mention it is because that eventually led to me spending my eighteenth birthday in New Orleans. Preacher Spencer did make a side trip to Chattanooga where we saw Lookout Mountain and a school there called Tennessee Temple College where I would eventually go to school.

From that point on my life there was a strange set of circumstances all against my own choices but which ultimately led me to the love of my life. Vicki and I were married in Peru Indiana on January the twenty first in the year of nineteen sixty one. Later that same year we gave birth to our first daughter, Robin Lucinda, the next year our little Lori Colese was born. Both of them while I was in the United States Air Force. Yep that is how I met my wonderful wife which is a story in itself. Ask her, she will tell you it was another one of God's plans for us. Again thru a series of events we ended up in High Shoals Georgia and there our youngest was born, Shawn Tama. While in High Shoals I began to learn how to be become a professional photographer.

There was an interlude in our lives while I spent the next ten years as a professional photographer. Finally opening my own studio in Athens Georgia called Athens Photographers Inc. That was when the Lord decided that it was time for me to get on with my calling and I spent the next thirty years preaching the gospel. Some times to bitter disappointment. One man in one of my congregations and I were discussing the Scriptures and I pointed out the fact of what the Scriptures plainly stated and his answer was 'that may be what the bible says but that isn't what I believe'.

All in all I have had a really good life; I have seen things the average person never gets to see, done things that most people only dream of doing. I have traveled this United States from stem to stern and enjoyed every part of it. And I have actually lived in ten of the fifty states.

So please don't weep for me; it has been a wonderful journey with a very wonderful companion. Do for a fact celebrate the fact that I did live and that some of you have been affected by my passing your way. I have lived, I have loved, I have been loved.

Lord & Stephens Funeral Home, EAST, Athens is entrusted with arrangements.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Francis Eldon "Smitty" Lebkeucher, please visit our floral store.


No services are scheduled at this time.

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4355 Lexington Road
Athens, Georgia 30605

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