BVA Stalwarts Gave Freely
Two blinded veterans who served their
country at the same time, but who assumed their elected offices on BVA's
National Board of Directors more than a half century apart, passed away
within nine days of one another—Hyrum Smith Shumway on March 26 and
Everett Walter Langworthy on April 4.
Known affectionately as "Smitty" in the BVA Bulletin
of the late 1940s, Smith Shumway became a national leader in the
education of the blind following his more than four years as a member of
the BVA Board of Directors, first as a Director (on a par with today's
District Director) in 1946-47 and then as the Association's National
Treasurer from 1948 to the early part of 1950.
Smith Shumway, far right on back row at January 1947 Board of Directors meeting, helped pioneer BVA's early history. Smith served on the Board 1946 to 1950. He was a role model throughout his life for those adjusting to total blindness.
Born in 1921 in Salt Lake City, Utah,
Smith was raised in Lovell, Wyoming, and graduated from the University
of Wyoming in 1943. He was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division as a
2nd Lieutenant when he landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944,
leading an infantry platoon in the Big Red One across Normandy, France.
On July 27 of the same year, the explosion of an anti-tank mine blinded
him in both eyes and filled his body with shrapnel. He lost the right
side of his chest and needed 100 stitches in his face alone.
Following three years of
hospitalization and rehabilitation, Smith found employment in Baltimore,
Maryland as a rehabilitation counselor for the blind. In the ensuing
eight years, he placed more blind people into gainful employment than
any other rehabilitation counselor in the nation. He was active in BVA's
growth and development during its formative years and began living an
independent, active lifestyle of his own.
Smith was included in several Bulletin photos during his time on the Board of Directors. Unfortunately, only two of the originals of these photos have been located.
"He was just an extraordinary, remarkable person with an amazing
family," said Curt Ralston, Nebraska Regional Group. The two first
became acquainted at Avon Old Farms Convalescent Hospital during their
recoveries and, despite never meeting again in person, always stayed in
touch through the years.
Smith and his new bride, the former Sarah Bagley, are pictured on page 8 of the October 1948 Bulletin
with former National President John F. Brady congratulating them on
their marriage, which occurred on September 1 of that year. Executive
Director Lloyd Greenwood and Bulletin editor Irvin
Schloss are seen in the photo observing the verbal exchange. The caption
also reports that Sarah was at that moment the newly elected
vice-chairman of what was, at that time, known as the Women's Auxiliary.
Over the next ten years, the couple welcomed seven girls and one boy to
the family, the latter two of which were twins.
In 1954, the then small Shumway family
moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where Smith served as State Director of
Education for the Deaf and Blind for 32 years, establishing schools,
camps, and centers for the blind and deaf while believing staunchly in
mainstreaming them into the public school system. Smith also became
known for his staunch religious faith and church activity. He amazed
school children of two generations with his surprising professional
In recent years following Sarah's
passing in 1992, Smith returned several times to Normandy and was
instantly embraced by the local French people, who greeted him with
hugs, kisses, media interviews, and autograph requests. He was knighted
by the French government as a war hero and received the French Legion of
Smith had been living at the home of
his son Joseph of Richmond Heights, Missouri, until about a week prior
to his passing.
Accomplished scholar, retired Army Air Corps
Colonel, entrepreneur, writer, and friend of BVA members across the
country, Everett Langworthy was an active member of the Association
through much of the 1990s and served as Director of District 3 during
Born on August 17, 1918, Everett went
from humble beginnings to a storied career as a World War II pilot. He
flew the Berlin Airlift and circled the world multiple times as an
official records observer.
Everett graduated from the University
of Massachusetts in 1940. He joined the Army Air Corps in June 1942 and
retired with full honors as a Colonel exactly 30 years later. During
World War II he flew C-54s and C-47s along the South America and North
Africa supply route that provided critical provisions, equipment, and
goods to the fighting troops in Europe and Africa.
After World War II, he flew more than
130 missions in the C-4 as part of the Berlin Airlift in 1948-49. His
newspaper obituary reported that in August 1952 he used his airlift
skills again in Operation Hajii Baba, consisting of the transfer of
thousands of Muslim pilgrims from Beirut to Jedda, Saudi Arabia, as part
of a U.S contract with the Lebanese government.
Everett also qualified to pilot two
additional aircraft, the C-124 and the Convair 240. He was an Operations
Coordinator with the Federal Aviation Administration, which included
special assignment to the Pentagon. He attended the National War College
at Fort McNair in Washington, DC, during 1963-64, where he studied
Upon his military retirement, Everett
served as Vice President of Meteor Aero, Inc. He joined the National
Aeronautic Association in 1976, where he served as Secretary of Records
and Contests until 1979 and then became Executive Vice President until
While working for NAA, he was
recruited for special assignments by the FBI and was recognized in 1991
for his Service in the Public Interest. In 1992 he received the NAA
Elder Statesman Award for his "lifelong contributions of significant
value to the field of aviation."
In addition to his military aviation
accomplishments, Everett was a lifelong entrepreneur. As a child during
the Depression, he helped his family when he bought baby chicks for nine
cents each, raised them, and sold their eggs for 60 cents a dozen. In
later years he invested in racehorses and was also an innovator in
exploring alternative energy sources through the drilling of gas wells
Everett was diagnosed with Macular
Degeneration in 1992. He soon after attended the Eastern Blind
Rehabilitation Center at West Haven and became a staunch advocate of VA
blind rehabilitation services. In the process, he became acquainted with
BVA and spent his spare time exhorting fellow blinded veterans to
remain active, independent, and supportive of one another.
He wrote several articles for the
Bulletin, including one that required considerable research and
uncovered valuable information regarding the history of the National
Headquarters building that has been reproduced and republished two
As a member of the
Maryland-DC-Virginia Regional Group, he served on the group's 50th
National Convention planning committee that brought the convention to
Washington, DC, and was the impetus behind a sweepstakes program that
remained in place until 2008.
Everett is survived by his wife, Joan,
an active member of the BVA Auxiliary as a former National Vice
President. Over the years, the two delighted BVA staff members and their
fellow blinded veterans at BVA national conventions and regional group
events alike with their friendship, kindness, and wit. He is also
survived by three children, four stepchildren, and 12 grandchildren.