Ted's siblings describe his love of life
Nancy Smith: Ted was a fun-loving brother. He loved to walk on his hands across the yard at the farm. He was always playful with our children. And he was just a regular guy.
Ron Studebaker: Ted was also quite an athlete. He loved to participate in sports. I think he did it not so much for the competition as that, to him, it was more the journey rather than getting to the goal itself.
Doug Studebaker: Ted was just an awesome big brother. I really admired my big brothers, and Ted and I were the closest—six years apart—and he was fun loving. This was a big and strong guy. He was the biggest among us, and he was a strong, vicious competitor on the gridiron, a wrestler, and a pole vaulter—held the pole vault record at our school. And I just want to point that out, that what an active and athletic, a chiseled guy that he was in terms of just his physical prowess.
Gary Studebaker: Somehow people seemed to migrate to him. He was known for gathering crowds around him and doing folk music. He was good at the guitar. He took his guitar to Vietnam with him.
Lowell Studebaker: He went to war without weapons of war. His weapons were what was in his heart, his training to be with an underprivileged people and to try to lift them up and to help them. And unlike a soldier who goes to war with weapons, he went to war with weapons of peace.
Nancy: With a guitar. With his guitar.
Gary: He was so enthusiastic to be in Vietnam, not only did he learn the hill tribe language Koho in the hill tribe area, but he also learned the Vietnamese language. So he went over to do agriculture work, that is really what he went to do, but besides doing agriculture work, we know there were some friendships.
Doug: Certainly he enjoyed the adventure, but I think he enjoyed just being enriched by this culture that he was working with, and trying to, at the end of the day, trying to pass on some love and to see another side of America at a time when there was such great turmoil. Bill Herod, his supervisor there in Vietnam, he said it was good to be there with Ted because you knew he belonged. And he would joke with the girls on the way up, and kid the little children and so forth, and switch easily between Koho and Vietnamese and English. He just totally admired the people that he was working with—felt invigorated by the cultural experience that he had.
Ron: He had obviously just melded into the feelings of what was going on in that country.
Doug: Ted was naturally a very likeable person. People liked him. And he had a sense of humor second to none. But he had tremendous humility that I think that he was just simply a great asset.
Ron: We found out that Ted also associated with some of the local American military in that area in terms of meeting with them on some off hours, playing basketball and other athletic events with them. So he was open to his communication with anyone no matter what.
Gary: He realized they were doing what they thought was right. They had to do what they felt was right. He had to do what he felt was the right thing to do.
Ron: I think the fact that the good Lord gave us each two ears and one mouth speaks volumes to that issue about it’s important to listen and hear what other people say, and clearly, Ted was super at that. Ted’s actions and his deeds were not by preaching and not by hammering things to people. It was more by example, and I think a lot of his life was just that—an example.
Lowell Studebaker: In Vietnam, I’m sure he was keenly aware of the mortar fire and the nightly attacks. There was an American military outpost not too far away, and there was always skirmishes.
Mary Ann Cornell: Ted sent tapes home all the time while he was there, and you could hear the mortar in the background, so you knew the dangers. But he seemed to be able to overlook that and just talk about what was going on there with the people that he was working with.
Linda Post: I think the positive things in life are shown very strongly through Ted’s work. He didn’t labor over any of the negatives. The word in the letter, “It’s dangerous here,” that was a one-time statement—nothing more than that.
Ron: I don’t think any of us ever got a negative letter from him saying, “Oh, I dislike this” or “I don’t like that.” It was always upbeat, an occasional thing about danger, but he was very upbeat and very positive, so I can imagine that he woke up every day just enthused and ready to go again.
Nancy: Ted always said, “Life is good, yeah!”
Gary: That’s how he ended his letters, and he just had that confident feeling.
Doug: How he was there was very joyfully, and he saw it as a real honor to be there.
Ted's Essay: Why I Played Football
Image of original essay courtesy of Gary Studebaker.