Jon Wade Smith

May 31, 1959 - August 1, 1993

This was written by Roberta Illert Jon's wife: I'd like to thank everyone at MODOT who made this memorial sign possible. This is such a blessing to me, and to Jon's family. When I heard of this program I knew I had to apply for it. Not only is it a lasting tribute to a wonderful man, but also I know it will help others. Some may visit Jon's grave, many may never see his grave. This program puts it in daily view, hopefully reminding us of the incredible person he was and that because of a drunk driver, he was taken from us before his time.

Jon was always helping other people. He was the one you saw changing a tire, stopping to assist a stranded motorist, or working on a vehicle of someone who couldn't afford to take it to the shop. I could not tell you how many times I watched Jon change a tire, fix a vehicle, or jump out of his truck to help push a car. He never sat on the side and said "I wish they would do something" he knew he was "they" and he never missed an opportunity to help someone. He loved working for MODOT; to him it was a way of helping others. He fixed roads so others could drive them safely, he plowed snow so people could get to work, and he welded and fixed equipment so others could operate them safely. Everything to Jon was an opportunity not a job. He always had a story to tell about his day, never a complaint. His dream was to become a supervisor, and I know he would have reached that dream had his life not been cut short. Actually Jon was helping someone the night he died. He wasn't working his regular shift, he volunteered to work that night, it was the flood of 93 and hwy 40 was closed at Gumbo Flats and someone had to work during the night to maintain the signs and barricades. The truck he was changing a tire on wasn't his, but there was a need. There was a flat that had to be changed and Jon was changing it. To Jon it was an easy task; he could change a tire in less than 5 minutes. The only thing he didn't plan on was a drunk driver on the same Highway.

This sign is appropriate because in a way it's like Jon is back at the Ballas Shed, he's permanently assigned to Hwy 270 at that mile marker where the accident happened and he's still helping motorists by showing them that he was a real person who died at that site because of someone's bad decision to drink and drive. His sign has a birth date and a date of death that everyone can see and hopefully this sign will be the deterrent that someone needs not to drink and drive. I hope this sign will be the reason that someone stays off the road and saves someone else's life, and saves someone else's family from going through the pain and suffering that our family, friends and co workers have gone through.

 

Jon's Unveiling Event Ceremony
 


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