Mark Monroe Smith of Sparta died unexpectedly on Sept. 22, 2020, from a vehicle accident. He was born Sept. 7, 1948, in New York State to the late Alden and Louise Monroe Smith. He is survived by first cousins the Rev. Nora Smith, Germantown, N.Y.; Robert Smith, New York City, N.Y; and Richard Smith, San Clemente, Calif., and by friends Janis Fender, Angela and Dean Trivett, Susan Dixon, Coby LaRue, Bob Bamberg, and veterans officer Kelly Steele, as well as Rebecca Mitchell, Jana Strickland, Sara Tucker from Yadkin Valley Home Health who nursed him following a recent illness. Mark always looked forward to their visits.
He graduated from Chapel Hill High School and attended UNC—Chapel Hill.
He completed a tour of Germany and two tours of duty in Vietnam in the U.S. Army. He served in the 1st Air Cavalry (Airmobile) Division as a rifleman, grenadier, radio operator and platoon leader, and he advanced to the rank of staff sergeant.
He received 10 awards for his military service, including the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnamese Campaign Medal and the Bronze Star.
He was also active in the UNC Vets for Peace and was the N.C. and S.C. regional coordinator for Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
From 1983 through 2011, he worked as a journalist in newspapers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Nevada. His last work for a newspaper was with The Alleghany News where he is remembered for his intellect, writing skill and gentle spirit.
He received well over a dozen awards for his journalism, including the Columnist of the Year and Community Journalism awards from the New Hampshire Press Association.
He returned to Vietnam twice to address lingering feelings about the war and his spirits were lifted when he was welcomed as a comrade in arms by former countrymen he had fought against. His war experience is chronicled in “Seeking Quan Am: A Dual Memory of War and Vietnam,” co-authored with Susan Dixon.
His ashes will be interred at the Salisbury National Cemetery in Salisbury.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Vietnam Friendship Village Project USA, PO Box 599, Arcata, CA 95518-0599 or to Thomas Family Funeral Service, PO Box 114, Sparta, NC 28675 to assist with funeral expenses.
Thomas Family Funeral Service is honored to be serving the Smith family. If you wish, online tributes may be extended to the family at www.thomasfamilyfs.com.
Obituary written by Bob Bamberg
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