Last Friday, I went to a memorial service. It was one of the saddest, most beautiful evenings in recent memory. My friend Dick died at the age of 71. I met him almost fifteen years ago, when he would have been in his mid-fifties. Back when I had dreams of a career in the theatre, Dick and I were actors together in productions of Lillian Hellman's The Autumn Garden and Ken Ludwig's Lend Me a Tenor. That production of Tenor also included Dick's beautiful wife and three of my dearest friends from that time in my life -- and was also where I met the adoptive lesbian moms (who were the director and stage manager of the show). By the time the show closed, all of these people would be like family; show biz does that, I guess.
This blog is meant to share stories about Dick Smith who passed away peacefully November 26th 2006 at his home in Rockville, MD.
Just email me a story firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add it to this site. Feel free to send stories and photos to email@example.com.
The memorial service was held on December 1st 2006 at Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church, 9601 Cedar Lane, Bethesda MD. Many thanks to everyone who came out to pack the church to the gills. He would have appreciated the SRO crowd!
Im sure many a good tale was shared by the hundred plus people who showed up at the house. Id really like to hear some of the ones I missed.
I struggled this week trying to write my father’s obituary using the Washington Post’s generic suggestions. Reducing his life to a 47-year career at the Corps of Engineers is like writing about Superman and only describing Clark Kent’s writing style. While he did good work for the Corps, and was probably prouder of it than he let on, he worked to live his life to the fullest not the other way around. To come up on this stage, as he did so often, and try and do him justice is no small task. So please bear with me.
Richard Smith was born in 1935 and grew up in Beaver, a lovely quiet town west of Pittsburgh. His father Glenn was a schoolteacher and Minnie Smith worked at the Town Hall. Glenn played the trombone and, because he owned one, persuaded the band teacher to convince Dick that he had a "perfect lip" for that instrument. Dick loved playing the trombone and he was so good at it that he landed a spot in the Beaver High marching band while he was still in junior high. He was an outstanding hurdler despite having relatively short legs. To compensate he learned how to take hurdles on alternate legs and loved to explain how his unorthodox style would often throw competing runners off-stride while he streaked to another win.
Over 20 years ago Dick Smith entered my families life. For those of you who have known and loved him longer than I, I thank you. I am certain that each of you had a hand in providing the foundation from which my family and I benefited. As you already know, Dick grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. And although you could take the boy out of Pennsylvania you could never take Pennsylvania out of the boy. He sniffed everything before he ate it…an affliction from which so may of you Pennsylvanians suffer. And he insisted on drinking water that was not chilled or iced. You see he had a coach in high school who told him that drinking water below body temperature was bad for him. For all of you teachers out there… be careful what you say… some of it really does stick.