Smith, Darwood Kenneth (1929–2002)

By Alfred E. Labadisos

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Alfred E. Labadisos, M.A. in religion with emphasis on New Testament (Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies), was a missionary member of the 1000 Missionary Movement, Silang, Cavite, from 2006-2008 and a missionary teacher at Chuuk Seventh-day Adventist School, Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia, from 2013-2015. After his missionary term ended, he went to Thailand and worked as a human resource-generalist at MediaKids Academy, Pathum Thani, Thailand.  He is married to Ferndelle Leegh H. Barret.

Kenneth Smith served the country of Thailand for 12 years, including a term as president of the Thailand Mission from late 1972 to mid-1974, and served the church for more than three decades.

Early Life

Darwood Kenneth Smith was the son of George and Donna (Kite) Smith. He was born on September 8, 1929, in Fort Collins, Colorado. At the age of five, he moved with his parents to Idaho, then to Montana, and finally to California.1 At the age of six, Smith started his days in Hollywood using the name Darwood Kaye. He was one of the cast in the Our Gang comedies, playing the character Waldo from 1937 to 1940. He later appeared in Barnyard Follies, Best Foot Forward with Lucille Ball, and Kansas City Kitty.2 In all, he appeared in 40 films over nine years.3 Then, at 15, he changed his life course when he was baptized as a Seventh-day Adventist.4

Education and Marriage

Darwood Kenneth Smith graduated from Hollywood High School and then attended the University of California Los Angeles. In 1946, he joined in the U.S. Army and served one and a half years, mostly in Korea. In 1948, Smith studied at La Sierra College (now University) from where he graduated in 1952 with a degree in theology.5 In the years 1966 and 1970, Pastor Smith attended classes at Andrews University for bachelor of divinity and master of divinity, respectively.

On June 3, 1951, D. Kenneth Smith married Miss Marjorie Jean Venden, who was the daughter of Elder and Mrs. D. E. Venden. Marjorie studied her secondary education at Lincoln High School and graduated in 1946. She attended classes at Lincoln Union College from 1946 to 1948. From 1948 to 1950, she studied at La Sierra College, where she met D. Kenneth Smith. Mrs. Marjorie Jean Smith graduated at the aforementioned college with a bachelor of science degree in secretarial science.6

D. Kenneth and Marjorie Smith’s marriage was blessed with four children: Daniel (b. May 1, 1953), David (b. March 4, 1955), Richard (b. April 12, 1957), and Donald (b. April 20, 1960, in Thailand). All four sons are pastors in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.7

Career and Ministry

D. Kenneth Smith started his work as a pastor in the Seventh-day Adventist Church in San Diego, California. From there, he pastored and evangelized in Palm Springs (1954–1955),8 Escondido (1955), Oceanside (1956–1957),9 and Fallbrook, all in California.

On March 14, 1957, the General Conference Appointment Committee voted and approved the call for D. Kenneth Smith to go to the Far Eastern Division to serve as an evangelist in Thailand.10 On August 1, 1957, Pastor and Mrs. Smith and their sons Daniel, David, and Richard boarded on the S.S. Steel Admiral, and they arrived in Thailand in September. Pastor Smith served as a pastor at Chiang Mai Seventh-day Adventist Church from 1957 to 1961.11 His passion for, dedication to, and commitment to the Lord’s work was manifested in his programs and ministries.

After his short furlough in 1961, Pastor Smith returned to Thailand for his second term in service.12 In 1962, he served as a district leader in the Chiang Mai and Ubol churches. In 1963, Pastor Smith became the Missionary Volunteer Secretary of Thailand Adventist Mission. Then, in 1965, he was called to serve as a church pastor and chaplain of Bangkok Sanitarium and Hospital (now Bangkok Adventist Hospital).

After he finished his master of divinity at Andrews University in 1970, Pastor Smith was called to serve as a pastor at Santa Maria and Lompoc Seventh-day Adventist Churches in California.13 In 1972, Pastor D. Kenneth Smith was elected to be the president of Thailand Adventist Mission. He departed the United States in July 197214 and arrived in September 1972 in Thailand,15 where he served as the president until mid-1974.16 At that time, many United States military members were stationed in Thailand, but the Church had no chaplain in that area. President Smith and other Adventist workers made it a point to visit Adventist servicemen on their journeys around the country.17

Later Life and Legacy

When he returned to the United States, Pastor Smith again pastored in California. Initially, he returned to the Santa Maria and Lompoc churches (1974–1977),18 Saint Helena (1977),19 La Crescenta (1984), and Tujunga, Burbank, and Norwalk (1992).20 Though he retired in 1994, he continued to work as a part-time Bible worker at the La Sierra University Church, where his son Dan was the senior pastor.21

Pastor D. Kenneth Smith died at Riverside Community Hospital due to a hit-and-run car accident while he was walking on a sidewalk in Riverside on May 15, 2002.22

Sources

Beach, W. R. “From Home Base to Front Line.” ARH, August 22, 1957.

“Child TV Star Becomes Adventist Preacher.” ARH, August 28, 1968.

“Conference Worker Changes.” Pacific Union Recorder, June 17, 1974.

“D. K. Smith Becomes President of Thailand Mission.” Messenger 23, no. 1 (January–February 1973).

“D. Kenneth Smith (LLU ’52) to. . . .” ARH, September 21, 1972.

“Darwood ‘Waldo’ Kaye (1929–2002).” Historical Survey of Our Gang/The Little Rascal, accessed January 28, 2019, http://www.cyranos.ch/ourg-e.htm#kaye.

Donato, B. U. “Meetings in Saigon.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, August 1, 1974.

Dunn, N. W. “From Home Base to Front Line.” ARH, December 14, 1961.

Hill, Lisa O’Neill. “Hit-run Driver Kills Pastor.” ARH, https://www.adventistreview.org/archives/2002-1523/news.html.

Minutes of the General Conference Committee, August 6, 1970. General Conference Archives, Silver Spring, Maryland.

Minutes of the General Conference Committee, March 14, 1957. General Conference Archives, Silver Spring, Maryland.

“News Notes: North American: Pacific Union.” ARH, November 3, 1977.

“Our Gang’s ‘Waldo’ Killed in Hit-and-Run.” ARH, June 20, 2002.

Smith, Clark. “American Adventist Servicemen in Thailand.” Central Union Reaper, March 13, 1973.

Smith, D. Kenneth. “Effort in Palm Springs.” Pacific Union Recorder, May 30, 1955.

———. “Meetings at Oceanside.” Pacific Union Recorder, October 8, 1956.

———. “Meetings in Fallbrook.” Pacific Union Recorder, January 28, 1957.

———. “Report from Palm Springs.” Pacific Union Recorder, June 21, 1954.

Notes

  1. Dr. Daniel Smith, specialist for creative evangelism of the Southeastern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Riverside, California, interview by author, Silang, Cavite, Philippines, January 24, 2019; see also “Darwood ‘Waldo’ Kaye (1929–2002),” Historical Survey of Our Gang/The Little Rascal, accessed January 28, 2019, http://www.cyranos.ch/ourg-e.htm#kaye.

  2. Wikipedia, s.v. “Darwood Kaye,” last modified August 31, 2019, 2:37, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwood_Kaye.

  3. “Darwood ‘Waldo’ Kaye (1929–2002)”.

  4. “Our Gang’s ‘Waldo’ Killed in Hit-and-Run,” ARH, June 20, 2002, 20; “Child TV Star Becomes Adventist Preacher,” ARH, August 28, 1968, 29.

  5. “Darwood ‘Waldo’ Kaye (1929–2002).

  6. Dr. Daniel Smith, interview.

  7. Ibid.

  8. D. Kenneth Smith, “Report from Palm Springs,” Pacific Union Recorder, June 21, 1954, 4; K. Smith, “Effort in Palm Springs,” Pacific Union Recorder, May 30, 1955, 6.

  9. D. Kenneth Smith, “Meetings at Oceanside,” Pacific Union Recorder, October 8, 1956, 6.

  10. Minutes of the General Conference Committee, March 14, 1957, 833, General Conference Archives.

  11. W. R. Beach, “From Home Base to Front Line,” ARH, August 22, 1957, 1.

  12. N. W. Dunn, “From Home Base to Front Line,” ARH, December 14, 1961, 19.

  13. Minutes of the General Conference Committee, August 6, 1970, 70–108, General Conference Archives.

  14. “D. Kenneth Smith (LLU ’52) to be . . . ,” ARH, September 21, 1972, 22.

  15. “D. K. Smith Becomes President of Thailand Mission,” Messenger 23, no. 1 (January-February 1973): 9.

  16. Dr. Daniel Smith, interview; B. U. Donato, “Meetings in Saigon,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, August 1, 1974, 16.

  17. Clark Smith, “American Adventist Servicemen in Thailand,” Central Union Reaper, March 13, 1973, 2.

  18. “Conference Worker Changes,” Pacific Union Recorder, June 17, 1974, 4.

  19. “News Notes: North American: Pacific Union,” ARH, November 3, 1977, 29.

  20. “Darwood ‘Waldo’ Kaye (1929–2002).”

  21. Lisa O’Neill Hill, “Hit-run Driver Kills Pastor,” ARH, accessed January 28, 2019, https://www.adventistreview.org/archives/2002-1523/news.html.

  22. Hill, “Hit-run Driver Kills Pastor”; “Our Gang’s ‘Waldo.”

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Labadisos, Alfred E. "Smith, Darwood Kenneth (1929–2002)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Accessed January 27, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=7G5R.

Labadisos, Alfred E. "Smith, Darwood Kenneth (1929–2002)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Date of access January 27, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=7G5R.

Labadisos, Alfred E. (2021, April 28). Smith, Darwood Kenneth (1929–2002). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved January 27, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=7G5R.