Laurence Smith


4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Tuesday, August 15, 2023
Gallaway & Crane Funeral Home
101 South Finley Avenue
Basking Ridge, New Jersey, United States

Funeral Service

11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Wednesday, August 16, 2023
Liberty Corner First Presbyterian Church
45 Church Street
Basking Ridge, New Jersey, United States


Liberty Corner First Presbyterian Church Cemetery
45 Church Street
Basking Ridge, New Jersey, United States

Obituary of Laurence A Smith

Laurence  Smith, 89, of Basking Ridge, Former Ridge High school Athletic Director, Track Coach, Cross Country Coach, Swim Instructor



Laurence A. Smith (“Lightning Larry”) 89 of Basking Ridge, passed away on Wednesday August 9, 2023, after suffering a severe stroke. Laurence was born in Troy, NY in 1934.  He was the son of George and Virginia Smith originally from Millington, NJ.  



He attended Bernards High School and graduated in 1952. He then attended Springfield College in MA where he graduated in 1956 with a BS in Physical Education.  He married his high school sweetheart, Lois Acken in 1956.  His first Physical Education teaching job was in Harding Twp. Elementary School. He continued his career there until he was drafted in the Army in 1957. He started at Fort Hood Texas and was moved to Germany where he was an Army Sergeant in the 4th Armor Division from 1957 – 1959.  When he returned to NJ, he began teaching swimming, diving and Jr. Lifesaving at Palmers Swim School in Benardsville, NJ where he taught until 1995.  He returned to Harding Twp. Elementary School until he began teaching Physical Education and Health at Ridge High School in 1961 and continued his education for his Masters Degree at New Jersey College Trenton State. He was then appointed Athletic Director of Ridge High School in 1973. He taught Physical Education and Health for 37 years while being the Athletic Director for 18 years, the Cross Country Coach for 26 years and the Track Coach for 24 years. He finally retired on July 1, 1997.  His greatest honor was to have the Ridge High School Track dedicated to his name and in 2004, he was inducted into the Ridge High School Hall of Fame.



Laurence lost his beloved wife Lois Acken, mother of Glenn and Wayne, in Feb. 1991.  He eventually moved to Yarmouthport, Cape Cod, MA and married his second wife, Nancy Kerr, in 1998.  Along with his two sons, Wayne and Glenn, he now was a stepfather to four daughters, Bonnie, Joan, Laura and Sherri. He lived in Cape Cod for 20 years where he enjoyed kayaking, swimming, skiing with the Men’s Ski Club, and working out every day at the gym.  He traveled every year and visited his sons, one in NJ and one in OR.  In 2015, Nancy passed away after an illness and Laurence eventually moved back to Basking Ridge, NJ in 2019 and lived in Fellowship Village. He enjoyed swimming twice a week and working out at the gym every morning. 



Laurence A. Smith is predeceased by his beloved wife, Lois Acken, mother of Glenn and Wayne, his niece Wendy Schwertfeger, his second wife, Nancy Kerr, his stepdaughter Sherri Kerr, and his son Wayne Smith. 



He is survived by his son Glenn and his wife Joan of Millington, NJ, his sister Sue Taylor of Jackson, NJ, his niece Robin Schwertfeger of Rhode Island, his stepdaughters Bonnie, Joan and Laura, his grandchildren Stephanie, Carly, Jennifer, Brian, Dan, Joe, Renee, Cal, Ally, Laura Ann, and great grandchildren Genevieve and Nova.



Visitation will be held from 4 – 7 PM on Tuesday, August 15, 2023 at the Gallaway & Crane Funeral Home, 101 South Finley Ave. Basking Ridge, NJ. Funeral Service will be held at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, August 16, 2023 at Liberty Corner Presbyterian Church, 45 Church St. Liberty Corner, NJ. Burial will follow at Liberty Corner Presbyterian Church Cemetery.  In lieu of flowers, you may make a donation to Liberty Corner Presbyterian Church, 45 Church St.  Liberty Corner, NJ  07938. For further information, or to leave an online condolence message please visit

Share Your Memory of