The Heart of Kernersville: Steve & Cindy Smith
By NJ Clausen
Greetings to all! You may have noticed over the years that I endeavor to introduce you to a person or couple that represents some aspect of the month. In February, thoughts turn to love with Valentine’s Day, and this year I have the great pleasure of presenting to you Steve and Cindy Smith, who will be celebrating their 40th anniversary this summer.
Steve and Cindy both spent their childhood in North Carolina, with Cindy being born and raised in North Carolina, and Steve moving with his family to the Charlotte area by way of Virginia and New York in time to start his education. Cindy grew up the middle of 3 sisters, and Steve is the youngest of 3 brothers. As a child, Cindy loved to roller skate, ride her bicycle, and swim. Steve did his best to keep up with his brothers, playing baseball and spending time on the golf course…an activity he looks forward to enjoying again upon retirement.
When Cindy was 7, she had to have a kidney removed. She had been enjoying dance, however after the surgery her parents wanted to protect her other kidney by avoiding physical activity. Although Cindy was not participating in sports, she was active with babysitting, Girl Scouts, chorus, piano lessons, and the Keywanettes. Steve had a paper route in junior high but could only work summers during his high school years as he played trumpet in the marching band. The band was very good and went to 4 or 5 competitions per year. Steve also played 3rd base and shortstop on the school baseball team.
Following high school, they both decided to continue their education at UNCG but did not meet until their sophomore year when they both were residing in the Phillips-Hawkins dormitory. The residence hall was divided with the boys on the Phillips side and the girls on the Hawkins side with a common area in the middle. Although there were phones in the rooms (no cell phones yet!), there was also a reception desk. Steve worked at the reception desk and would take messages to put in the box that corresponded with each student. The common area also had couches and chairs where people would study. They would see each other and talk a bit when Cindy collected her messages.
Steve acknowledged that he was the one that ‘started fishing’ first and when asked why, he responded that Cindy was the nicest person that he knew. He would leave messages for her in the box… messages that would make Cindy laugh and which she kept for a long time. Although different in many ways, Cindy affirms that they balance each other out. Steve also worked in the radio station, and he would play some jazz for her. Steve claims that in addition to jazz music he also introduced Cindy to Chinese and Mexican food, as her mother did not care for it and mealtimes did not include them. When asked how she knew that Steve was her forever partner, Cindy shared that she liked that Steve’s faith was important to him (even though it was different than hers), that he was a hard worker as well as honest and up-front with her, and he was humorous.
Shortly after they started to connect, Steve’s mother passed; a tragedy which brought them closer. Their first date after he returned from the funeral was at Rosewaters (which is now a police station), where Steve remembers that Cindy would not let him pay for her meal. Cindy remembers telling her mom that Steve was just a friend, however neither of them ever dated anyone else. They would go to Yum Yum Better and Stamey’s Barbecue for many of their dates, places they still enjoy.
After graduating from UNCG, Cindy with a degree in Exceptional Education and Steve with a degree in Business, Cindy and Steve married and lived up in Richmond, Virginia. Both were working up there, but then decided they wanted to start a family and be closer to their families. They chose Kernersville as it was in the middle between Greensboro and Winston-Salem. They knew that Steve’s company was in Greensboro, but Cindy had interviewed in both Greensboro and Winston-Salem, and she was not sure which teaching position she would be accepting. They both liked that Kernersville was a small town, and a good place to raise a family. When asked about their favorite experiences of living in Kernersville, they agreed that raising their kids here, their neighbors, and the people of this town are what makes this town so special.
This June, Steve and Cindy will celebrate 40 years of marriage. When asked what contributed to the longevity, they both responded, “trust in each other and respect for each other.” They both agreed that their faith has helped them overcome challenges that have happened throughout the years. Life can be challenging, so you need to find the humor – if appropriate – and look for the positive.