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.

Smith Shumway

 

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.
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 magic tricks.


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 Honor medal.


Smith had been living at the home of his son Joseph of Richmond Heights, Missouri, until about a week prior to his passing.

Everett Langworthy

 

Everett Langworthy

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 2001-04.


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 counterinsurgency.


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 1992.


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 in Pennsylvania.


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 additional times.


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.