Welder Larry Smith has fused connections in his community

larry smith

Tell Larry Smith something can’t be done and you send him on a mission to prove you wrong. Once in while it doesn’t work out – but even then he still wins because, in his attempts, he’s learned things that will help him in the future. And at 77 he still looks to the future and keeps busy at Precise Welding in Lancaster – the business he’s run for 47 years.

That’s his day job. In his spare time, he works to strengthen the bonds among people and communities as a volunteer with such causes as Earth Angel Foundation and Freedom’s Never Free. Web Chick has updated websites for both organizations. 

larry at moment

The Earth Angel Foundation of Ohio has sent over 200 children and their families on great vacations throughout the United States since 1987 – making dreams come true for children with terminal or life-threatening illnesses. It began as a project of vintage-car clubs in Lancaster and Marysville; today it is associated with the Earth Angel Super Cruise-In, Car and Motorcycle Show at the Fairfield County Fairgrounds. The event – along with generous donors, volunteers, and 88 sponsors – is what keeps the dream vacations coming.

Smith has been an Earth Angel trustee for 27 years – managing the website and manning the 866-611-2645 phone number out of his office. Non-profit boards around the country shrank during and after COVID, and Earth Angel is no exception. Smith said the number of board members is down from 22 to nine.

star welding

Freedom’s Never Free is a Lancaster-based non-profit dedicated to primarily honoring the men and women who have served in all branches on the U.S. armed services and, more recently, to also honor first-responders. It’s recognized locally for its annual displays the first Saturday of each November at the Fairfield County Fairgrounds – after touring communities around the country. Smith, who served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam war, got involved in the group in 2013 when it brought a Vietnam Wall display to Lancaster and he helped set it up.

A year later, the group wanted to honor WWII veterans, and created state pavilions – and Wall of Stars that Smith made with 4,200 stars. Freedom’s Never Free intends to create a memorial to those who served in the Korean war, but it already has a Small Wars and Conflicts memorial, honoring those who served in conflicts from Vietnam to 9-11. The 9-11 attack itself led the group to a display honoring First Responders.

Smith was no stranger to such civic engagement. Though he grew up in Northampton, Mass., Smith has spent almost his entire adult life in Lancaster and knows more about the city’s heritage than many natives. Much of his time in the Air Force was spent in Germany, but he finished that career in 1970 at Rickenbacker (then Lockbourne) Air Force Base. And married a woman from Lancaster.

Before he started his Precise Welding business, Smith – who already had the equivalent of an associate’s degree in welding technology from the Air Force – got a job as a nuclear-welding technician at Diamond Power in Lancaster, working on equipment for nuclear power plants. He also studied welding engineering at Ohio University. 

It was during his time at Diamond that he became involved in the Diamond Unity Management Club, which did some civic activity every year. In 1974, the club approach the mayor and City Council to suggest a project that would serve the community for a century or more. That led to the downtown bandstand on the square in front of Fairfield Federal Bank. With the help of donations and lots of hard work, the bandstand was dedicated on July 3, 1976 in conjunction with federal Bicentennial Commission celebrations. 


Smith was in charge of the welding and other work, and said the bandstand is “built to nuclear standards.” The Bandstand even has a basement – and a time-capsule behind a plaque. While the bandstand’s 50th anniversary is fast approaching (Smith would like to see a re-dedication event – the time capsule is to be opened at the centenary in 2076. 


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