News + Events

Scholarship Memorializing Duck Boat Victims Established at FHU

Henderson, Tennessee - Aug 14, 2018

A scholarship fund has been established in memory of two individuals who lost their lives July 19 in the duck boat tragedy at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri.


Steve Smith, 53, and his son Lance, 15, drowned when the duck boat in which they were riding sank, killing 17 persons. Pam Smith, widow and mother; Loren Smith, daughter and sister, along with Will Hester, minister of the Osceola, Arkansas, church of Christ, and his wife Sarah initiated the fund.

The Lance and Steve Smith Excellence of Christian Character Memorial Scholarship has been established at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tennessee. It will be awarded to incoming students who possess a servant’s attitude and demonstrate excellent Christian character by participating in missions and community service.

Steve Smith was a retired elementary school teacher and a deacon at the Osceola church. The family is well-known and highly regarded in the community. Some in the community said the family lived their lives serving others. “Steve was a man of humility who always put everyone else ahead of himself. He was always thinking of how he could help others,” Will Hester said. “He was a wonderful man to be around. He had a compassionate heart.”

Lance Smith would have been a ninth grader at Osceola High School this fall. He had recently finished STEM Academy where he was on the robotics team. He also played soccer on a community team. His father had baptized him late last year. Lance Smith had spoken at a devotional service the Sunday before his death, his first and last such speech. “He was the perfect example of humility and compassion,” Hester said. “He cared about everyone.”

Loren Smith, 14, was also aboard the ill-fated duck boat but she not only survived, she was also able to assist another person ashore. Pam Smith had opted not to take the boat ride. The family had frequently vacationed in Branson.

“We hope this scholarship keeps the memory of Steve and Lance alive,” Hester said. “We want it to be a reminder of how they lived their lives and perhaps folks will follow their example.” Contributions to the scholarship fund may be made to the Osceola Church of Christ, 421 West Semmes Avenue, Osceola AR 72370 or the Freed-Hardeman University advancement office, 158 East Main Street, Henderson TN 38340.