Smith shares his love of community in pictures with St. John

Fran Brownell
St. John News
Dick Smith, St. John resident who chronicles St. John community life with photographs on his Facebook site, is pictured with grandchildren Quade Smith, 14, and Darby Smith, 16, at the Smith Family home on Smith Hill on the northeast outskirts of St. John.

Dick Smith is a household name in the south-central Kansas community of St. John, home to some 1,400-plus-or-minus souls, probably most of whose photographic images have appeared over the past 10 years on Dick Smith’s Facebook page.

Smith’s passion for showcasing the joys—and occasionally the sorrows—of the community he and wife Marcia have called home for more than half a century has made Smith’s Facebook page the go-to place for visual images of St. John community and school events, ranging from sports to theatre productions and lots of activities in between, including St. John’s First Lighted Christmas Parade last December.

“I love my community, our schools, and I try to keep everyone abreast of what’s going to make memories for them,” Smith said.

Though Smith didn’t base his St. John-Hudson professional career on photography (he was the go-to computer guy) his enthusiasm for capturing and sharing images of community members at work or play has easily earned this 77-year-old shutterbug the unofficial title of St. John Photographer in Chief.

Case-in-point: since January 1, 2021 through February 19, 2021, Smith has posted 49 albums of St. John activities online, ranging from 19 to 220 full-colored photos—including lots of action shots!—in each album.

For friends wondering exactly how many photos are in these 49 albums, the tally comes to somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 photos posted by Smith in the span of less than two calendar months.

Smith and wife Marsha (she was his high school and still-is sweetheart) hail from Fairview, Okla., relocating to St. John in 1967 on the invitation of his cousin Marilyn Lee and husband Jerry, who, he said, were gung-ho about the opportunities St. John offered in the teaching profession.

Smith accepted a math teaching position and joined the ranks of Tigers supporters, which for him has turned out to be a lifetime commitment as he continues to focus the lens of his 35 mm Cannon AE1 digital camera on Tigers in action, whether their sport be football, basketball, volleyball, or track, golf, or cross-county running. Oh, and he also takes an interest in Staffford County academic events, including Spelling Bees.

Because of a shoulder injury eight years ago resulting from a motorcycle accident which damaged a nerve to his shoulder, Smith said he has had to adjust the way he holds his camera. Luckily, the injury hasn’t seemed to slow him down when it comes to creating digital memories, which last summer included the COVID-19-delayed graduation of St. John High Class of 2020. Smith posted a gallery of photos of that event, including one of seniors’ motarboard hats flying through the air.

On his Facebook page, Smith also takes his followers, who number in the hundreds, on trips down memory lane with albums of photos from years past, rekindling emotions the images portray.

And then there are birthdays! Thirty-six of Smith’s friends have gotten Facebook  birthday wishes from him this year – including, with two exceptions, photos -- and the calendar still says March.

St. John’s annual sumnmer Jubilee festival is another event big-picture event, as are class reunions, Smith said.

And St. John fans of the guy who’s one of St. John’s biggest fans, are just happy he’s one of them!