John Smeltzer, 84, of Lititz, passed away on December 1, 2022
John Smeltzer was an extraordinary individual – gifted, wise and accomplished. His gift lay in his ability to bring people close to their father’s heart, the Son’s freedom and the Spirit’s presence.
John was born and raised in Greensburg, Pennsylvania and went on to attend Franklin and Marshall College (where he played football) as well as Lancaster Theological Seminary. In 1963 he tied the knot with Anne Neve Lausch and served as a pastor throughout America for many years.
Early Life and Education
John Smeltzer was born in the United States and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. After graduating Central High School, he continued on to the University of Tennessee to earn an undergraduate degree in exercise science and psychology.
After graduation, he began his career as a military officer. Throughout his military service, he held various positions.
He was an instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy and served two tours of duty in Vietnam.
Smeltzer continued his profession even after retirement from the military. He loved hunting, fishing, BBQ’s, bonfires, motorcycles and NASCAR; most of all though he enjoyed spending time with family and friends. Aside from these hobbies he also loved reading books and creating scratch-art artwork.
John was a military chaplain, serving around the world and earning numerous honors. For his outstanding service in Alaska and California, John was awarded with the Air Force Commendation medal.
He earned a master of divinity degree from the University of Denver, and was ordained into the Christian Church and appointed as its chaplain.
His passion was music, which he enjoyed sharing with friends and family. As a guitarist, he enjoyed performing live at local pubs with the Lou Moore Band.
In addition to his professional career, he was active in charitable causes. He supported the CCRF, which raises awareness for childhood cancer, and Katie’s Krusaders – an organization that assists families dealing with cancer.
Achievements and Honors
Smeltzer was an integral member of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) community and a highly-respected faculty member in both Microbiology & Immunology and Orthopaedic Surgery at UAMS.
He is one of UAMS’ most renowned and well-funded microbiologists, ranking among the top 50 in his field. His research focuses on infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus.
His research is supported by the National Institutes of Health, and he has received numerous teaching and research awards. Additionally, he was presented with the College of Medicine Faculty Research Excellence Award and is a fellow of the American Association for Medical Research.
John Smeltzer was an inspiring figure of devotion and commitment to L’Arche Daybreak. He made Daybreak his home and encouraged others to make it theirs as well.
John was an exceptional L’Arche Community Leader and his relationships with housemates at Daybreak and The New House were deep. He mentored new assistants and house leaders on how to be with their housemates both practically – such as helping Adam eat or picking Michael up out of bed – as well as through social interactions.
He had an extraordinary gift for recognizing and healing the wounds that prevent people from reaching their highest potentials. By accompanying people to the Father’s heart, Son’s freedom, and Spirit’s presence, he helped them grow in hope and joy.
John Philip Smeltzer, 84, of Lititz passed away on December 1, 2022. He was born in Greensburg, Pennsylvania to the Rev. John F. and Thelma K. (Lytle) Smeltzer and followed in his parent’s footsteps; graduating from Romulus Central High School and attending Franklin and Marshall College and Lancaster Theological Seminary.
He was ordained in the United Church of Christ and appointed as a chaplain to serve in the United States Air Force for 13 years, postings which took him to Alaska, northern Maine, the Panama Canal Zone and California.
He retired in 2000, returning to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and settling in Lititz. A member of the Lititz Moravian Church, he served on its Board of Elders as well as serving as usher and greeter. He will be fondly remembered for his generosity, commitment to social justice issues and mischievous spirit.