Leonard M. Smith ’50
Date posted: December 7, 2013, 11:08 am
Leonard Smith was a very private man. If you wanted to know his cause of death, he would have told you that it was none of your business. If you asked Penny, his beloved wife, she would tell you that he had cancer, but not to tell anyone. Although his prognosis was dire, he battled on, lived his life and survived several years beyond the experts’ expectations. He did not want his obituary to suggest that he lost a long battle with cancer. By his reckoning, cancer could not win, and could only hope for a draw. And so it was. Leonard Smith hated losing.
He was born to Leonard Henry Smith and Charlotte deCamp on July 20th, 1927 in New York City. As a young man he resided in New Rochelle, NY, where he attended the Iona School. He graduated from the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, and then matriculated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was president of the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity and earned an engineering degree. He joined the Army Air Corps after his first term at MIT, and attained the rank of colonel, but only on the telephone when facilitating personnel discharges and equipment requisitions. He was discharged as a private. After his graduation from MIT, he enlisted in the Air Force during the Korean War, and served in Japan and the Philippines. After the war, he began a career as a management executive. He worked for Bamberg Rayon Company, American Enka, Union Carbide, General Dynamics, Cognitronics and Computer Transceiver Systems Incorporated. By virtue of his education, training and temperament, his assignments tended to be companies and divisions that were experiencing financial or operational deficiencies. He liked the challenge.
He was married to Penelope Self on December 4, 1953 in Asheville, North Carolina. They were married for 58 years until her death in 2012. They raised five children together, living in New Rochelle and Greenwich, Connecticut. He enjoyed sailing and served as Commodore of the Shenorock Shore Club in Rye, NY. They also raised show and field Gordon Setters, of which he was very proud. After retirement, they resided in Asheville and Pine Island, where they were active with local church groups and charities.
He is survived by his sister, Charlen Banks (John) of Vero Beach, FL; his children: Penny Wilson (Chauncey) of Wayland, MA, Patricia Smith (Fred Bubernak) of Woodbridge, VA, Leonard M. Smith of Wilmington, NC, Scott Smith of Woodbridge, VA and J. Bradford Smith of Stamford, CT; and by his grandchildren: Michael Finger (Vanessa) of Portsmouth, NH and Samuel Bubernak of Woodbridge, VA.
Leonard Smith hated pointless bureaucracy, thoughtless inefficiency and bad ideas born of good intentions. He loved his wife, admired and respected his children and liked just about every dog he ever met. He will be greatly missed by those he loved and those who loved him. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you cancel your subscription to The New York Times.
Leonard Smith would have thought that this obituary was about three paragraphs too long.