The Generations of Thomas Pine Petznick
Thomas Pine Petznick
Notes for Peter Kendall Smith
As an adult he changed his middle name from Gale to Kendall. (Ann Earley)
PETER KENDALL SMITH 1926-1986
St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch, Saturday, Dec. 27, 1986 Pg 8Af
HEADLINE-Little League teams to get help from sale of benefactor's home
FARIBAULT--Proceeds from the sale of the home of Peter Kendall Smith, who was born without arms and spent 33 years as a patient at the state hospital in Faribault before working at the hospital another 17 years, will be used to fund the town's Little League teams.
Smith died last fall at age 60, and his father has donated Smith's home to the city of Faribault, which has decided to sell it and use the money for the town's young athletes.
Smith was 9 when he entered the Faribault hospital, then called Minnesota School for the Feeble-minded and Colony for Epileptics. He had an eye deformity, a cleft palate, one leg that was shorter than the other and deformities of the spine and feet.
Doctors didn't expect him to live long, recalled his father, G. Kendall Smith, retired board chairman of the Thayer & Smith real estate and mortgage firm.
But Peter Smith remained a patient, even though he was neither significantly retarded nor mentally ill, until he was discharged in 1969. Then he worked for the hospital, now called Faribault Regional Center, until his death.
During his youth, Smith developed physically, intellectually and emotionally. He learned to read, and to manipulate telephones with his head and shoulders. He learned to write with his feet and type with a mouthpiece-held stylus.
He struggled with artificial arms but gave them up because he could manage better without them.
Baseball was his passion. Those who knew him think the interest started when someone asked him to umpire a game at the state hospital.
Smith had a very good memory, especially for baseball. He took a 5, 000-card index of major league players that his father bought from a retired umpire, displaying the photos, batting averages and other statistics for every man who ever played in the major leagues. Using his feet to tear, assemble and paste, he expanded it several times.
He was known to call Twins officials to tell them how to run the team. He was a town character, and his recollection of baseball trivia made him an accepted authority for settling bar bets.
In the early 1970's, he served on the board of the Association For Retarted Citizens Minnesota, perhaps the first former resident of a Minnesota institution so honored.
He was fiercely independent. "I knew when he called me he'd tried everything else" said another friend, Don "Buck" Burkhartzmeyer, a worker in his family's shoe business who made shoes that Smith could buckle by crossing his feet.
In a 1982 interview with the Faribault Daily news, Smith described his hospital experience. "When I first came, I knew I had to be here. So, I started developing my humor, which got me through."
After his release, Smith lived with Jim Kinney, another former patient, first in apartments and then in a rambler that Kendall Smith bought near the hospital. Both worked at the hospital, Smith as a secretary and clerk, Kinney in the kitchen, and they looked after each other.
Peter Smith led a "victorious life," and the town helped him, his father said this week. "When I walked down the street in Faribault with him, virtually everybody we'd pass spoke to Peter."
The elder Smith's gift of Peter's home, worth about $50,000, was accepted Monday night by the Faribault City Council. At the father's request, proceeds from the home's sale are to be invested, with income providing for baseball uniforms, scoreboards, field renovation and other needs of Little Leaguers.
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