THE LAST WORD: Remembering my young friend Patrick Smith and the legacy he left us

Kerry Hubartt

Patrick Smith was a roaster at Old Crown coffee on North Anthony Boulevard when I first knew of him. My youngest daughter was a barista there in 2003 during her college years when he was hired. My youngest son, who, like his sister, started college at IPFW, also worked with him there in 2006, and then a little later at a new startup roasting operation called Utopian.

Patrick and his cousin Brendon Maxwell began Utopian in Patrick’s basement/kitchen, which Maxwell says was their office. But Patrick had to drive 45 minutes each way to Pierceton, where they were renting time on a roaster.

I got to know Patrick just a little later when I’d climb the stairs to the fourth floor of the Party Apart building on East Superior Street to pick up my weekly pound of fresh roasted coffee where they moved their young operation, and then had their own roaster. Maxwell still runs that popular, growing local business, which is preparing to move later this year from a historic building on Pearl Street to a building that is part of the Columbia Street renovations.

However, Patrick, a Fort Wayne native, left the business in 2012 to move to Owosso, Mich., so he could follow a new calling.

Last week, my son attended Patrick’s standing-room-only funeral in Owosso. Only 36, Patrick was killed in a single-car crash near Owosso on March 7, leaving his wife of more than 15 years and their five children.

His death occurred seven years to the month after he left Fort Wayne and Utopian. He began his new career in March 2012 at Covenant Eyes, and what he did there left a tremendous legacy for his family and friends to honor in years to come.

Covenant Eyes is an accountability service “designed to help people overcome pornography, by monitoring their screen activity and sending a report to a trusted friend who holds them accountable for their online choices.”

Patrick began working for Covenant Eyes as a customer service representative. He became product development manager in 2014, and then vice president of customer service in 2015, leading the company’s largest department (80 employees). A touching tribute on the Covenant Eyes website said Patrick “embodied the essence of Covenant Eyes. He was loved and honored as an exemplary member of our team, at the forefront of our mission to help those who struggle to overcome pornography, or never start.”

Why was Patrick committed to Covenant Eyes? Because he saw how pornography is eroding society — even the church. Statistics on the Covenant Eyes website show “90 percent of teens and 96 percent of young adults are either encouraging, accepting or neutral when they talk about porn with their friends. Just 55 percent of adults 25 and older believe porn is wrong. In our churches, one in five youth pastors and one in seven senior pastors use porn on a regular basis and are currently struggling. That’s more than 50,000 U.S. church leaders.”

Memorial contributions included in Patrick’s obituary included the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, an organization he became involved with that deals with pornography, among such other issues as sex trafficking, prostitution and sexual assault.

In an article on some time ago, Matt Fradd, the author of “Delivered: True Stories of Men and Women Who Turned from Porn to Purity,” wrote that the primary problem with pornography is that it reduces the beauty and the complexity and the individuality of the person used as a sex object — “this person to whom the only proper attitude is love, and turns this person into an object to be used for selfish pleasure. Porn is wrong as anything is wrong that attempts to inspire or endorse an opposite attitude to love, that turns people into commodities.”

Patrick embodied the essence of Covenant Eyes, according to the people he worked with. He was their choice as the featured character in a Covenant Eyes video on YouTube titled “Be Accountable, Be Great.” The video says, “A man of integrity doesn’t just do what he wants. He does what he should.”

I was moved by the final words in the Covenant Eyes tribute last week: “Gentle, yet courageous. Honest, yet loving. Leader, and servant. Patrick Smith leaves behind a legacy for all of us to emulate.”

Kerry Hubartt is former editor of The News-Sentinel.