Kurt Don Smolek

Kurt Don Smolek passed away suddenly on August 30, 2017, in Washington, D.C. from a boating accident. He was 45.
When Kurt took off for the great ski slope in the sky, he left behind his wife, Susan; his son and pride of his life, Andrew; his parents, Don and Andrea Smolek; his brother, Matt, and his wife, Haylee; his sister, Jill Smolek Rutz, and her husband, Andrew; his grandfather, Emil Smolek; Andrew’s mother, Jennifer Mellen; his “real dog,” Indy, and many well loved relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his arch nemesis, Pumpkin the 10-pound mini long-hair dachshund (Susan’s dog).
After working as a police officer in Dayton, Ohio, Kurt fulfilled his lifelong dream of becoming a diplomatic security special agent for the Department of State. He made many friends during postings at the U.S. embassies in Iraq, Switzerland, Egypt, and Cambodia, and in Washington, D.C. For fun, he went on great adventures around the world such as skiing in Europe, Alaska, Japan, Morocco, Dubai and Turkey. He dove with turtles in the Red Sea and angled for black marlin off the coast of Panama. Kurt roared around the African veldt on safari in Kenya and marveled at the planet’s highest peaks in Nepal. Kurt absorbed life the way the spring absorbs the snow and commented once that he would like his gravestone to say…“I bet I had more fun than you did.”
Throughout his travels, Kurt was always accompanied by his feather pillow endowed to him by his grandmother, Ann Spenner, 20 years ago. His wife is happily sending this “icky” pillow with him to the afterlife, so it will continue to comfort him (and get it out of the house).
Kurt was the consummate entertainer. He was often surrounded by friends and family recounting his many adventures. His philosophy was to never let the truth get in the way of a good story, though the truth was often the best story of all. He was also a bourbon connoisseur who enjoyed sharing his passion with his friends. The Kentucky bourbon industry has lost a great emissary.
To those who knew him, Kurt embodied the kind of friend we should all strive to be: unfailingly reliable, generous without motive, and thoughtful beyond reason. The badge he carried and the oaths he swore were merely reflections of what he long held in his heart: that he was a steadfast protector ready to defend the very personal perimeters of friendship, kinship and love that he built with you. Kurt knew evil intimately. He rubbed against the worst of humanity. Yet in that hot, unforgiving crucible he somehow forged his most admirable trait: an infectious love for people. Kurt liked liking you. He was proud to be your friend.
The final picture on his iPad was a message from a fortune cookie that read “Only those who dare, truly live.” There couldn’t be better final words to sum up Kurt’s life.
The memorial visitation will be held at Advent Funeral Home, 7211 Lee Highway, Falls Church, VA 22046 on September 7th from 3:30 pm to 7:30 pm. We ask that you stop by to tell the stories he can no longer tell.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Wounded Warriors Project (https://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/). Condolences for the family may be offered online at [email protected]

45 Responses to Kurt Don Smolek

  1. Fellow DS Agent says:

    Farewell dear colleague, we deeply appreciate your service!

    • Wil Makaneole says:

      Kurt and I were drinking Cherry Coke in my office about 2 months ago hanging out trying to find out the best, new computer parts to buy to build his son a gaming computer. Andrew, I have not met you, but I’ve known about you and have heard stories about you since 2006. Your father held you as the center of his universe.

      Kurt has sought me out over the years to discuss gaming equipment. He used to tell me “If it has Big Wil’s stamp of approval, it’s good enough for Andrew”. That always put a smile on my face. I don’t think I ever had a conversation in the 11 years I’ve known him that didn’t involve guns, gaming, cars (Land Rover Defenders), and Andrew…and popcorn.

      Anyone that knows Kurt has a Kurt story. My favorite: The 1 ton pallet of bagged popcorn shipped to him in Iraq. It literally took a forklift to get it moved to our living area. Kurt handed out bags of popcorn for weeks. It is almost impossible to comprehend just how much popcorn that is; everywhere you walked there was a faint hint of buttered flavor popcorn in the air. He was the popcorn dealer on compound. I asked him where the hell did you get all this popcorn? His reply with a massive grin on his face: I’ve got friends in high places!

      His reason for doing it: popcorn was one of those tasty snacks that made people smile and was shared. Kurt made all of us workaholics gather around the microwave, cook popcorn, forget about work for a few minutes, and enjoy each others company. Genius. Thank you, Kurt.

      I was invited to his boat about a dozen times to “check out his pad”. I never made it out there and I’m disappointed in myself for not doing so.

      Smolek family: you are in my thoughts and prayers and I’m sorry for your loss. He was a close friend and I will ALWAYS remember how well he treated others. Kurt was one of the most loyal and honorable men I know. This one is going to sting for a while. You will be sorely missed, Bro. Rest in peace.

    • Jim Jones and Beverly Jones says:

      Sincerely sorry to hear of your loss. Prayers for all of the Smolek family.

  2. Mary Wildman says:

    Don & Andrea & Family my heart goes out to you. Kurt’s death really bothers me I remember the young man who was in our wedding. At that time he was full of hopes and dreams. I have read a lot of articles, it sounds like he enjoyed life. I pray for all of you, and am so sorry you have to go through this tragedy. Please know that you are in our prayers. Dan and Mary Wildman

  3. Darryl Madden says:

    I came to know Kurt when he moved into Gangplank. He immediate fit right in, that alone speaks volumes. He always greeted you with a smile and hearty handshake. In his short time among us, he made his mark. He will truly be missed.

  4. Rich Cooper says:

    I’ve not met Kurt but have heard many stories about his life travels and was always eager to hear more. All of us hope our children see us as some kind of hero; I often wondered if Andrew saw his dad as “Superman” or maybe even “James Bond” since his line of work that did not always allow full disclosure. The Smoleks are a special family and after reading and learning more about Kurt, it’s very obvious that he was a big reason why. My sincere condolences to your entire family and I hope the fondest memories of Kurt soon replace the grief and sorrow you feel today.

  5. Lynn Seghetti says:

    Dear Susan and Family,
    My very deepest sympathy for the loss of Kurt, the most sincere person I’ve ever met. Never did I find him being anyone but himself. I was proud to be related. Thrilled to know of his adventures. And devastated to hear of his tragic death. He will leave a very huge hole in our family.
    I look forward to meeting you, Susan, in Kurts hometown. Your strength is amazing. Now I know why you were together. XO

  6. Connie Christensen says:

    I never knew all the things that Kurt had done during his short life time. He sure knew how to enjoy life and live it to its fullest. I was blessed to have had him in my classroom so many years ago. My sympathies to his family and my prayers are with you.

  7. Paula Loeffler says:

    We are truly saddened to hear of Kurts untimely passin. Our hearts and prayers for peace and comfort are with you each of you.

    Paula Banks Loeffler

    N.J.S.P. Class of ’90

  8. Carol Miscik says:

    Andrea, Don and family,

    We are so sorry that you have to endure such a tragedy as the loss of your son. What an amazing life he lived. Our thoughts and prayers are with you now and will continue as you begin this journey of healing.
    Sincerely, John and Carol (Akers) Miscik

  9. Phil Steinhauser FSS Retired says:

    I only knew Kurt for a short time when we overlapped in Cambodia. I was so impressed with his overwhelming friendliness and great sense of humor. DOS has lost true hero.

  10. SAM McKay says:

    I met Kurt at Capital Yacht Club. He had a little boy’s excitement about his wife coming home and seeing the new boat. In a short time, he made me feel his love for the water and adventure. We are so sad for all his family and friends. And I so wish we had more time to enjoy his sea and land stories.

  11. Denver McPherson says:

    We met Kurt after he moved to Gangplank last year. We were neighbors. He and I immediately connected given our backgrounds. I am Defense Department and I have worked with DSS for many years in many countries. When he introduced himself, he immediately stood out as one of those personalities who I have come to enjoy being around. He was true, no agenda, secure, friendly, competent, unassuming yet you knew he was someone who would be there if you needed him. In my profession we call that a “Silent Warrior”. We got to know each other but not well enough. I regret not knowing him even better but I do know that at the end of the day (life) he made a positive contribution and that is all we can do. We are better off for knowing him.

  12. Brandy Dust Sult says:

    Thinking of you at this time. Prayers.

  13. Chris A Dust says:

    Truly sorry for your loss. Thinking of you at this time. Prayers.

  14. Scott olds says:

    Your right you had more fun! Will miss the phone calls, sorry we couldn’t meet up in Florida. We all are praying for the family and extend our condolences. “Only the good die young”

  15. James Eusanio says:

    So long brother, you will be missed. It was an honor to have known you.

  16. Xavier Castellanos says:

    Kurt, I was your first supervisor in DS. You quickly gained my respect and friendship because of your hard work, dedication and integrity. I was so happy to see you prosper personally and professionally over the years and enjoyed hearing about your adventures around the world. What a run it was! Rest in peace now and know that you are missed by many. It was an honor to have been your friend. Until we meet again.

    • Don Smolek says:

      Andrea said that she spoke with you at the funeral home. So sorry to have missed seeing you. Kurt alway called you his mentor and friend. Thank you for being there for him.

  17. Susie Szynalski says:

    I am so sad to hear of Kurt’s passing. I really enjoyed him as a student and he always loved to spend time and talk for a while about his dreams and aspirations. I remember his strength and determination. Frank and I send our condolences to his family and to Don and Andrea and family.

  18. Cliff Robertson says:

    Kurt was a good man and friend, honorable and true, with a good sense of humor and always ready to help people out. He will be sorely missed. Ave atque vale.

  19. Kent Danford says:

    I’m really sorry to hear about Kurt my deep sympathy I remember a young boy coming to
    my house with a shotgun he had borrowed and got a shell jamed in it. He was so scared he had broken it after I took it apart and got the shell out I could see the relief flood over him so I gave him a few lessons on how to take it apart if it ever happened again never figured he would be involved as a officer but I know that was his desire way back then

  20. Fellow DS Agent says:

    I was lucky to have known “Shecky”(my nickname for Kurt). I enjoyed a week of work, camaraderie, bourbon and skiing with Kurt and Susan in Switzerland in 2011, and I think of it fondly because of the great company and our instant friendship. I kept up with Kurt over the years, but I always knew that anytime I would run into him it was like we just saw each other five minutes ago, which is why the news of his passing is so devastating. Mostly I remember just laughing hysterically with the guy…and his Tyrannosaurus Rex arms. I liked liking Kurt and was proud to be his friend. I’ll miss you Shecky!

  21. James Wall says:

    I remember Kurt as a BSAC student of mine and one of the nicest guys I have ever met. My condolences to your family, Kurt will be greatly missed….

  22. Lorraine Gilb says:

    I only just met Kurt once through his friend, George. When Kurt shook my hand that night I could tell the type of person he was. A strong, caring and humble man. That one interaction made me feel like I was a special person to him. Truly genuine.
    My deepest condolences to his wife, Susan and his son, Andrew and all of his family and friends. This is such a tragic and sudden loss for those who loved him. May you be strong for one another and God Bless.

  23. DS SA says:

    Kurt had a ceramic plate body armour insert propped up in his office, with the words STRIKE FACE on it. If you asked about it, he’d say “Well, it says to strike face, so…” grab it with both hands and bang his head on it.

    RIP bro. Here’s to the WWP, and a beer to you.

  24. Patty Myers Fetchik says:

    Andrea and Don I am so sorry for your loss. Parents should never have to lose a child. My heart breaks for you. You and your family are in my prayers

  25. Harvey Hodges says:

    Kurt became our boating neighbor at the Capitol Yacht Club marina. His new boat was just across the dock in a slip aligned with ours. His welcoming smile, friendly attitude and willingness to lend a hand within the boating group at CYC. My wife Charlotte and I were drawn to Kurt immediately upon meeting him when he first took possession of his boat. He was always ready to lend a hand to this old man for any task. He will be missed greatly by all of us at the Capital Yacht Club. A fine man and a wonderful human being.

  26. Bill A. Miller says:

    Susan and Andrew, it was my pleasure to know Kurt from almost his beginning with DS. I was the RSO when he first TDYed in Baghdad and had the opportunity to speak and correspond with him on numerous occasions through the years. We in DS were blessed by his friendship and enthusiasm, our nation was blessed by his service. My sincere thanks for sharing Kurt with us for this so very short time. May God continue to bless and comfort you.

  27. Jason Dray says:

    Take care buddy

  28. Lora Thompson says:

    Fly high buddy. Growing up in our small town we grew friendships were deep. Thinking back on our school days bring back a smile. You will be missed. My thoughts & prayers go out to everyone.

  29. Frank and Conni Deli says:

    Our sincere condolences to all the family at your loss. We always knew Kurt would go far in life with his personality as a child. We remember he always had a smile and a glint in his eye as he grew so confidently in life with a wonderful family to guide and support him. God Bless you all. Kurt was a hero.

  30. Jennifer Smiley says:

    Kurt you were an amazing friend, but an even more amazing father. The adventures you shared will forever be a part of me. I’m still addicted to Tolberone chocolate because of you.

    Rest In Peace Kurt. You will be missed.

  31. Lori says:

    Don and Andrea,
    What a fine young man this little boy grew into.
    So sorry for you and your family’s loss. Our sympathies and prayers to all of you.
    Kevin and Lori

  32. Brad Winter says:

    Kurt traveled the world and met so many people; I am grateful to have been included among those who knew him. He often spoke of his son, of whom he was so proud. His legacy to us will be his generosity of spirit, his sense of humor, and his example to live life to the fullest. Kurt, you will be missed.

  33. Q says:

    As is the case with DSS agents, you go years without seeing a close colleague and then you run into them at SA-20 or HST and it is like no time has passed. It was that way with Kurt just a few weeks ago. We shared memories from that long ago TDY to Baghdad where it seemed as if everything was exploding around us. It was so nice to catch up with you one last time…

    And my heart goes out to your family during this unbelievably tough time.

    RIP Brother

  34. Melissa says:

    We met Kurt when he moved into Gangplank. We had invited him over for drinks, dinners and movies. We spent only a few moments in time with Kurt but they were memorable moments. He would let us know when he went on detail and invite us over. He was always welcoming and funny. The last time we saw him, we shared some drinks and he gave us a bottle of Club Havana. He was so excited for this next adventure and to have Susan home. He loved life and you could tell. His loss is felt by many of us. We had gained a wonderful friend and neighbor.

  35. Edgar says:

    Kurt was like a younger brother to a lot of his friends. Stopping by without calling, showering and leaving, leaving things in my car or house I had to send to him. It was also my honor to know his son Andrew whom I’ve known since he was born. Kurt always had me watch over him and drop things off for holidays and whatnot.
    Kurt always made me laugh, sometimes with him and sometimes at him. He is truly a unique light in this cosmic chaos. Peace be yours brother.

  36. Claude L. Poole says:

    Kurt brought so much life and humor to those months we were in Basic Agents course together so long ago. He always had a smile, or cheerful word, even when things weren’t necessarily going his way….Always there to help, no matter the challenge.

    Your memory will live on in our hearts and minds. Rest in Piece Kurt, and may God bless your family.

  37. Rochelle says:

    So unbelievable, the loss of such a fine young man whose passion for life was huge. Kurt, I enjoyed working with you at DPD when you came to First District out of the Academy. You were so gung ho about your new career. The talks we had were so interesting and when you told me you were leaving to take on a new endeavor, I was sad and disappointed at you leaving the Department. I am glad you were able to experience life as you wanted. You will be missed by many. RIP Kurt.

  38. Seth says:

    I met Kurt in Cairo when he was my neighbor down the street. On paper it was unlikely we would ever be close, but Kurt always prided himself in having a vast circle of diverse friends. If he saw you were a decent human being, he would do anything for you. He often said things that were wholly inappropriate, which would make me cringe and laugh at the same time. But he was always there for his friends, and I was consistently impressed by a few things in the 5 years I knew him. He was devoted to Susan and gushed about how lucky he was to be with her. He was a proud father and awesome dad, who did his best to set up Andrew for success and prepare him for adulthood. And when I visited him at the marina this past year, he would never fail to offer to drive me the 20 minutes back home to downtown DC. It was a simple gesture but reflected his kindness. I miss my friend but will always remember his sense of adventure, decency, and devotion to those closest to him.

  39. Ralph and Sue Risner says:

    Don and Andrea..just hearing the news of the loss of your son, Kurt. Just learning about his amazing life accomplishments. Not surprising knowing his wonderful family back ground. Keeping you and all of the family in our thoughts and prayers..

  40. Dario Mann says:

    I was posted with Kurt and Susan at the Embassy in Cairo where we lived through revolution part 2 together. Kurt was always ready to tell a joke (or laugh at one) and always willing to stop and chat with anyone. His easy going and enthusiastic nature made it easy for people to feel at home no matter the topic of discussion. He will be missed!

    My sincere condolences to the family!

  41. Mary E Behny says:

    To the family and many friends of Kurt

    What a sad day when I heard about this tragedy which had befallen one of the nicest of the nicest group of Regional Security officers in Embassy Cairo.

    Kurt used to make his rounds to our 5th floor Health Unit to ” check on the state of your morale” during and after the second revolution in Egypt.

    What a kind and decent human being.

    I am so sorry for your loss.

    Mary E Behny

  42. Sam Watson says:

    Sincere condolences to Kurt’s family. I’m so sorry for your loss. I am stunned, having just heard. Kurt was a great friend from Cairo days, and latterly Cambodia and the US. Such a genuine, giving, caring and friendly guy, he brought laughter and warmth wherever he went.


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