Carl Eugene “Gene” Smith

Carl Eugene “Gene” Smith, was an 11-year veteran of the Knoxville (TN) Fire Department. He was critically injured enroute to a fire in July 1952 while driving the/an assistant chief. Their vehicle was struck by a ladder truck at night at a blind intersection while responding to the same fire. He never regained consciousness and died 2 days later at 43. He left behind a wife and two children.

Robert L. Blankenship

Robert L. Blankenship

Buddy was born on November 30‚ 1947‚ in Knoxville‚ Tennessee. He graduated from Central High School in 1966. He was drafted into the Army in 1968 and served in the Vietnam War. While serving with the Army‚ Buddy was awarded the Bronze Star for heroic and meritorious achievement.

In December 1970‚ Buddy was hired by the City Of Knoxville Fire Department. The fire department was his career. He was very dedicated to his job and fellow employees of the fire department. He gave his all to it and loved every minute of it. He was stationed at Paper Mill Road‚ Station 18. Buddy was promoted to captain in the early 1990s. He was on Ladder 18 and an EMT. He was very well known and liked by everyone he came in contact with. He always put everyone else’s needs ahead of his own.

Buddy was a devoted family man. He married Cynthia‚ and they had one daughter‚ Stephanie Renee. She was the apple of his eye. He always tried to love and encourage her by being there and setting a wonderful example for her. He was a very proud father. Stephanie married Brandon Grubb‚ and we now have a four-year-old grandson‚ Robert Ethan‚ and a two-year-old granddaughter‚ Alexys Mackenzie.

Buddy was a Christian and very involved in his church. He was the driver of our church bus for the senior adults and the youth group. Buddy took our prime timers on numerous trips across the country and on several cruises. Our church bought a new bus and dedicated it to his memory after his death.

Buddy loved spending time at home‚ camping‚ going to the beach‚ and driving his hot rod. He owned a 1937 Chevrolet.

On October 19‚ 2003‚ Buddy had a heart attack after returning from a call. He lived four days and passed away on October 23‚ 2003‚ at the age of 55.

He will be greatly missed by all who knew him‚ the department‚ church family‚ friends‚ but most of all by his family. We love you so much and will never forget you. You will live forever in our hearts.