Our Dad was a wonderful father and an amazing man – smart, funny and dedicated. He didn’t suffer fools lightly and politicking was never his thing, but he believed in the people around him and in the work that he did.
He loved his work, NADA, and his team at Lincoln. He loved teaching. Not just providing an answer but walking a person through the whole issue – delving into the moving pieces that make up a whole. He not only wanted to share his own ideas, but, as all good teachers do, he wanted to get the other person’s take on the matter as well. He wanted to explore the issues and come up with an approach that would make things better.
Shallow dives into subjects held no interest for him. I once asked Dad for what I thought would be a quick bit of help on my math homework – 45 minutes later (and now with a deeper understanding of the history of the Pythagorean theorem than probably any 7th grader has ever had) we still hadn’t yet reached the mechanics of the problem.
But that was the thing about him. He had joy in figuring things out and discussing it with others. You always knew when the book you had in your hands belonged to Dad. Fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, poetry – no matter the genre, Dad would take notes. Detailed, meticulous, thoughtful notes. Favorite parts would be underlined, historical facts would be checked (and commented on, if incorrect) – reading one of his books is like having a conversation with him, getting insight to his thoughts.
He believed in the importance of being able to say “I don’t know” and to start the journey from there. It is only as an adult that I realize fully how impressive that is. It is only as I got older that I could properly appreciate the incredible things he did in his life.
As the news of his death has spread, several people have reached out to us, sharing memories and letting us know what Dad meant to them. Words used include: teacher, mentor, leader, guru, colleague and friend. Hearing everyone’s stories about Dad has been heartwarming and heartbreaking as we face life without him. We look forward to meeting you all as we celebrate the life of Michael Smith at the service on March 24th.