The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers lost a dear friend and Brother Boilermaker September 5, when Local 40 member Larry Dwain “Smitty” Smith, 71, passed away after a 35-year battle with Muscular Dystrophy.
Dwain graduated the Boilermaker apprenticeship program in 1970 and continued his union membership for the next 39 years. He served as a L-40 Assistant Business Manager from 1979 until 1983, when he was forced to retire due to his continuing battle with MD. In 1993, he received the Boilermakers’ National Recognition Award, after being nominated by his peers for improving training methods and educational programs.
In 1985, he started his 29-year career as a L-40 apprentice training instructor. During this time, he touched the lives of more than 500 apprentices. Many of his training methods and educational guidelines are still widely used by Boilermaker training centers throughout the country.
Dwain started painting in 2002 to maintain the use of his hands and arms. Just like everything else he attempted in life, he gave it his all and became an accomplished Renaissance-style artist. In 2004, he donated a mural to the Local 40 membership. The painting is displayed in our training center. Throughout his instructing career, he and his wife, Margie, worked with various apprentices and other instructors to transform our local training center into a jobsite-like museum.
In 2003, the L-40 membership unanimously voted to dedicate our new apprenticeship training building in his name, now known as the “L. D. Smith Training Center.” Dwain wrote to the membership: “Our organization is only as strong as the sum of its parts; the generosity that its members demonstrate by sharing their own knowledge, skills and work ethic with others will ensure that our organization remains strong for the future. I have endeavored to live with the premise that one must give something back for what one has received in life.” He wholeheartedly lived up to his lifelong premise.
I will always remember Dwain as a perfectionist with a heart as big as a giant’s and a smile that could light up a room. He had the personal belief that “knowledge is power” and did his best to instill that belief in his students. He inspired them to become the kind of member the union needs, not a member that needs the union. He will be dearly missed by all of our members and this entire organization.
Michael W. Autry, BM-ST
Boilermakers Local 40