Joel T. Smekens

Joel T. Smekens, 74, of Bluffton, IN, and having relatives in Warren, IN, died Saturday morning, March 10, 2018, at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne.

Mr. Smekens was a 1961 graduate of Bluffton High School. He attended the Milo Bennett School of Linotype in English. After a brief stint at the Warsaw Times-Union, he went to work at the Bluffton News-Banner, doing sports writing at night and linotype by day. He began fulltime work in the editorial department when the newspaper converted to offset printing. He became sports editor in 1977 and managing editor in 1986, a position he would hold until his retirement in 2008. After retirement, he worked part time at Thoma/Rich, Lemler Funeral Home.

The recipient of many awards for his writing, Mr. Smekens was inducted into the Bluffton High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2000, was honored as the grand marshal of the Bluffton Street Fair in 2008 and was presented with a Distinguished Hoosier Award by Gov. Mitch Daniels upon his retirement.

Mr. Smekens served in the Indiana National Guard from 1964 to 1970. He attended St. Joseph Catholic Church in Bluffton and also the First Baptist Church in Bluffton. He was also a former member of the Bluffton Lions Club.

He was born Sept. 5, 1943, to Clemen and Martha Smekens. He married Barbara Brickley on Aug. 5, 1989, at the First Baptist Church in Bluffton, and she survives.

Additional survivors include a daughter, Angie (Scott) Harris, of Poneto; a son, Brady (Kristina) Smekens, of Warren; three stepdaughters, Denise (Tom) Oswalt, of Bluffton, Julie Fetters of Kapolei, HI; and Diane (Patrick “Chip”) McArdle, of Shawnee, KS; two brothers, John Smekens, of Troy, OH, and Mike Smekens, of Bluffton; two sisters, Susie (Gary) Studebaker, of Tampa, FL, and Jane (Greg) Waters, of Bluffton; 13 grandchildren, Kayla (Bryant) Ponchot, Janette (Kurt) Funk, Leah (Brandon) Huggins, Joseph (Sarah) McArdle, Thomas (Paula) McArdle, Paul McArdle, Katie (Joey) Orozco, Chase (Mallory) Harris, Chandler Harris, Grant Harris, Sophia Smekens, Andrew Smekens, and Sydney Smekens; and seven great-grandchildren.

Calling is Monday, March 12, 2018, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Tuesday, March 13, 2018, from noon to 8 p.m. at Thoma/Rich, Lemler Funeral Home, 308 W. Washington St., Bluffton, and for one hour prior to the funeral service on Wednesday, March 14, 2018, at  10:30 a.m. at the First Baptist Church, 202 W. Cherry St., Bluffton. Rev. Les Cantrell and Jeff Lemler will officiate.  
Burial will be in Elm Grove Cemetery, with Catholic graveside rites conducted by Msgr. Pius N. Ilechukwu. There will also be graveside military honors by the American Legion Post 111 Color Guard and the U.S. Army Honor Guard.

Preferred memorials are to the Bluffton, Southern Wells and Norwell athletic departments.

Online condolences to the family may be made at thomarich.com.