Paul Reed Smith donates to WKMS
Paducah native, Paul Reed Smith’s interest in public radio and in honor of his education at St. Mary’s School System in Paducah, led him to donate a substantial gift to WKMS. His lifelong love of public radio and his strong belief in education caused him to pull those two loves together.
Smith, 55, died after a year-long battle with cancer. His wife, Darlene Feikema, contacted WKMS with the news that Smith had made a planned financial gift to the station.
Smith was born in Paducah and graduated from St. Mary’s High School. He graduated from the University of Kentucky; where he received a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Germany. He worked at the University of Washington in technology for 29 years.
According to Feikema, his love of languages led him to study German and Spanish. For nearly two decades he coordinated a group to gather and speak German. He also created a website where these language groups could keep in touch.
Feikema said, “People have told me that Paul’s charm and vitality drew them to him, so his work was like dropping a pebble in a pond…his influence kept rippling outward.” Feikema and Smith met in 2006, according to her there was an instant connection and they started dating. In the summer of 2007, he was diagnosed with cancer. “We realized we had little time, so we married September 1, 2007.”
Smith’s brother, Robert “Buzz” Smith, former City Commissioner of Paducah, remembers his brother’s sharp and clever wit, scholasticism and his love of traveling
According to Smith’s brother, he would return to Paducah a couple of times a year, always enjoying the city as if he were a tourist, visiting museums, riding on a riverboat and savoring his hometown memories. Smith said his brother’s personality was unique He loved to make people laugh and he enjoyed mentoring young people.
He always enjoyed diverse cultures and Smith thinks that is probably why his brother was so fond of public radio, because of its diverse reporting.
He was the oldest of five siblings. Paula, Becky, Buzz and Chris survive him, as does his father, J.C. Smith of Paducah. Smith’s mother, Peggy Thomas Smith and his biological father Paul Alan Reed, preceded him in death. The family opened the women’s clothing store, “Peggy’s of Paducah” at 23rd and Broadway. Smith had moved from Paducah before this business opened.
Kate Lochte, station manager for WKMS, said she is honored for Smith to remember WKMS with his special gift. She is appreciative of Darlene Feikema continuing Paul Reed Smith’s wish to support public radio and honor the St. Mary’s School System of Paducah in such a meaningful, grand way.