NCF Volunteer and Friend Remembered
Thursday, December 13, 2012

Karen Smith (left) and Cathy Meachum (right) volunteering at the NCF auction table during the 1998 Seattle Convention.

The NATCA Charitable Foundation (NCF) began in 1994, and without its dedicated volunteers, it would cease to exist. The NCF family recently lost an extremely committed and hard-working volunteer and friend, Karen Smith, wife of now retired Dallas/Love Field Tower (DAL) Facility Representative George Smith. Karen was one of the first volunteers at NCF.

Cathy Meachum, who worked alongside Karen when the nonprofit was first established, said back then, the two of them were the only volunteers who weren't air traffic controllers.

"She worked alongside me for years as we introduced the NATCA Charitable Foundation to NATCAvists though auctions, raffles, and even the now famous hangover kits," said Meachum. "She was a very smart lady, very personable and a hard worker — she didn't mind the crazy hours."

Cathy said Karen would travel at a moment's notice for a meeting, never questioning the airfare that would come directly from her own pockets. She was there with Cathy at the 1996 NATCA Convention in Pittsburgh as NCF held its first Convention auction and raffle.

"It's so difficult to find someone as dedicated as she was," said Cathy. "She made a huge difference; she was a great, trustworthy volunteer, capable of any task, and always ready to help."

Coincidentally, not only was Karen one of the first volunteers at NCF events, but she was also the first recipient to receive the NCF Volunteer of the Year award in 2001. Cathy Meachum said "she was there since the beginning, helping us grow."

Darrell Meachum, co-founder of NCF, said the Volunteer of the Year award was essentially created for volunteers like Karen.

"Karen and Cathy were the first to arrive and the last to leave," said Darrell. "Without their early volunteer efforts, I'm not sure where NCF would be."

Cathy Meachum (left) smiling with Karen Smith (right) after she won the first Volunteer of the Year award.

NCF Board member Mike Palumbo said Karen will always be remembered for her "unrelenting spirit of pride, motivation and level of involvement as one of the very first volunteers with the NATCA Charitable Foundation."

He continued, "For me, I'll always remember her constant smile, her exuberance in working to expand the role and stature of the charity, and her very great willingness to help others less fortunate than ourselves."

Karen Smith will be missed by many, and NCF will be forever grateful for her love and compassion in helping others, and her willingness to jump in to kick start a new charity idea that grew to become a well-rounded, highly-respectable nonprofit.