Longtime Salem High educator remember after cancer battle

Salem High held a minute of silence Saturday night before the Lady Lions basketball game in memory of Derek Smith, who lost his battle with cancer on Thursday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — He was known as the voice of the lions.

Mr. Derek Smith went to everything—every concert, every game, or every student council event. When he wasn’t announcing through the PA system and keeping score, he was taking pictures.

“Derek was at every event. I know people say things like that, but he was everywhere,” said Hank Weedin, Salem High’s sports director. “He would have 200 photos from every event.”

His wife Shelli, affectionately known as the Queen of Concessions, would also be there. They had no children of their own, but found their calling in the halls of Salem High School.

“Basically, his kids were every kid that ever came down our halls,” Weedin said.

The news hit the school community hard. Many learned in late October that Mr. Smith was ill.

“Then things went fast the last week, a week and a half. I don’t think anyone was ready for that,” Weedin said.

On Thursday, Shelli announced that the cancer had claimed Derek’s life.

“When I got the news with Derek yesterday, it hit me and it hurt,” Weedin said. “And then you know you have two more.”

The school has two others battling cancer in the Salem High School family – Konnar Anderson, a senior band member, and Mrs. Elliott, a teaching assistant in the special education department. Both are currently under consideration.

Weedin said the school hurts a little.

Before Saturday night’s game, a soup dinner was held to raise money for the medical bills for all three families.

“Just everyone in the community trying to reach out and support in the only way we know how,” he said.

The most touching tribute is the school’s baseball diamond, now and forever known as the Derek Smith Field.

“He’s one of those guys who is irreplaceable.”

If you want to help the school, you can send a check to Salem High School and make the “Lions Helping Lions” memo.

The school ensures that all donations go to the families.

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