America’s Gold Star Families is a 501©3 not-for-profit organization created to provide honor, hope and healing to those grieving any military loss. We include all family members representing all conflicts, all branches of service and all circumstance of death. IRS EIN 46-5574571.
America’s Gold Star Families honors our fallen heroes who served in the United States Armed Forces and cares for their survivors through programs and services at no cost to the survivors.
Many people do not know the significance of the Gold Star banner and its meaning. This organization is committed to educating others on this important designation and how to properly respond when meeting someone who has lost a loved one in service to our country.
America’s Gold Star Families is governed by a Board of Directors which serves under the oversight of a Gold Star Advisory Council comprised of gold star family members and survivors. This is to insure the Board properly meets the needs of survivors adequately with appropriate protocol.
Gold Star Advisory Council
Kathy Bastean, Gold Star Mother
Brenda Desilets, Gold Star Mother
Dale & Mary Ann Nannen, Gold Star Parents
Don & Robyn Pannier, Gold Star Parents
Board of Directors
Patti Smith, MBA, President
Billy Halstead, Vice President, Chairman Peoria County Democrats
Mary Ardis, Secretary
Kent Rotherham, CPA, Treasurer
Tripp O’Connor, Peoria County Treasurer
Harvey Slepian, US Army Veteran
Steve Sonnemaker, Peoria County Clerk
Dennis Tipsword, US Coast Guard Veteran, Current Vice Chairman National American Legion Veterans Employment and Education Commission
Bud Sous, USMC veteran
Greg Smith, Real Estate Investor
Honorary Board Members
Kevin Lacz, US Navy Seal, American Sniper co-star
Lt. Col. (Ret.) Lester D. Bergsten, United States Air Force
Lt. Col. (Ret.) Jack McManus, United States Marine Corps
Aaron T. Boyer, MD, former Major United States Air Force
Call 309-231-5090 for more info. All sponsors are listed on our website.
America’s Gold Star Families grows a Freedom Garden where all produce is donated to local veterans and first responders.
When founder Patti Smith’s two sons enlisted in the United States Marine Corps within six months of each other, she received a crash course in the military world. The emotional roller coaster of send off’s, boot camp graduations, writing letters, sending care packages, supporting other military families, deployments, homecomings—all occurred within a few short years. At one point both sons were deployed in Iraq at the same time. These life changing events altered the course of her life forever and while her sons now lead productive, civilian lives, Patti serves as support advocate for Gold Star families and survivors everywhere. Along with their two sons, Patti and her husband Greg also have two daughters and several grandchildren.
Patti Smith Bio
Peoria Memorial Association, President
18th Congressional Veterans Advisory Council
National Gold Star Chairman for National Garden Club
Illinois Gold Star Families Monument Committee
Marine Corps League Lifetime Membership
American Legion Auxiliary Limestone Post 979 Member
AMVETS Post 64 Member
Peoria Chiefs Baseball Club/Uftring Chevrolet Veterans Liaison
Former Honor Flight Board Member, two time Guardian
Heartland Hero Award, American Red Cross 2016
Citizen Patriot Award, Goodwill Industries 2015
America’s Gold Star Families Founder 2013
Entrepreneur of the Year, Women’s Council of Realtors 2012
Rising Star Award, Jim Maloof/Realtor 2012
Rookie of the Year, Peoria Area Association of Realtors 2012
Master in Business Administration, Bradley University 2010
Quality Citizen Recognition Program Recipient and Challenge Coin issued by United States Marine Corps Commandant James, T. Conway 2009
Certificate of Appreciation issued by State of Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs 2009
Led State Department sponsored forum with six European Security/Defense officials including reps from Lithuania, Portugal, Estonia, United Kingdom Montenegro and Slovenia 2009
Grand Marshall Peoria Heights Veterans Day Parade 2008
Literary contributor, Battlefields and Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage from the War In Iraq & Afghanistan by Jane Hampton Cook, Jocelyn Green and John Croushorn, 2008
Homefront Hero Award recipient issued by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn 2008
25 Women in Leadership Award recipient WEEK-TV NBC Affiliate 2007
Chartered first Illinois Blue Star Mothers of America Chapter 2006
Introduced Wreaths Across America to Peoria, IL area 2006
Operation Santa Founder 2005