Ray Smith Memories

In 1976 four “almost” geophysicists decided that we should attend the SEG(Society of Exploration Geophysics) convention in Houston….but like most Tech Grads, we had NO money!

So the rest of them sent ME to Ray Smiths office to ask him to pay for our way.

He was a great negotiator….and he did end up giving all of us enough grant money to fly from Chicago to Houston and back and for us to share the cheapest hotel rooms we could get.  Lloyal Bacon, our Geophysical Advisor, also went to the convention, and made sure all of us met all the oil companies that were there… to tell them that we were graduating as well as to make sure that we all were taken out to dinner every night….

We traveled to Chicago in the winter in the back of a non-heated camper pickup….I told Ray all of this a few years back at a Husky Hockey Game and thanked him as it launched all of our Oil Careers!!  He remembered me and we had a good laugh. Ray Smith was very influential on my career success, which continues to this day!! Ray Smith…RIP…and thanks!

Patricia Henderson ‘77

Consulting Geophysicist

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I graduated from Tech in 1961 before Ray Smith became President. I was able to follow his presidency for many years.

His son, Martin, was a graduate of Michigan Tech and both he and I were on the faculty of the Univ. of Idaho.  The image is when Ray and his wife visited us c. 1995. Shown in the photo are: left to right: Alison Sturgul (my wife), Ray’s granddaughter, his son Martin, Ray and his wife.

Prof John R Sturgul ’61

School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering

The University of Adelaide, Australia

 

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Friends –

President Ray told us to ALWAYS put you name tag on your right shoulder so when meeting someone they have a clear view of your name when shaking hands!

This is from 1960, it has always stuck with me, and has served well through the years.

Thank you –

Dick Walrath ‘64

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My wife’s parents, Holly and Gerald Caspary (Prof. of Civil Engineering and 1st Dean of MTU’s School of Technology) had a cottage on Half Moon Beach next to Ray and Bea Smith’s summer home. During many summers, Ray taught Holly, my wife Dona, and my daughter Cecily how to water ski. I fondly recall watching Ray ski with 5-yr old Cecily on his shoulders. We will miss his brilliance and humor.

Tom Gould (’63 & ’64)

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I was a transfer student to Michigan Tech’s Metallurgical Engineering Dept. in 1962. My first day on campus I met with Dr. Ray Smith in his office. Needless to say I was a bit nervous meeting the department head expecting him to quiz me on my academic knowledge. Instead he was very welcoming and right away I knew I had made the right decision coming to Tech.

Years later at the 25th anniversary since graduating, I met Dr. Smith once again at a dinner. He immediately knew me and related a couple stories from my time at Tech. He was a wonderful instructor, mentor and human being. I’m sure he will be missed by friends and family.

Terry Hardie BS Eng’g ’64; MS Bus Admin. ‘67

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My wife and I were fortunate to attend Ray’s 100th birthday party.  We had reacquainted with him a few years earlier here in Arizona and had kept in touch. I marveled at the array of books on display that he had authored on subjects far removed from his academic field. Ray was a brilliant man, and I was truly privileged to know him.

Jim Cote. BSEE 1962

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Ray was a remarkable combination of using his creative side with his logical side.  He approached me one day with a beautiful bust of an elderly lighthouse keeper & wondered if I could photograph it for him.  It was a snap. It was so realistic, all I had to do was find the most appropriate lighting & angle, and there it was.

Sometime later, he gave me an impressive book of original essays and poems by him, including poetic comments with regard to the keeper – and on the cover of the book was my photograph! That gesture of thanks remains with me yet, and each time I leaf through the book again I’m impressed with the perceptive, sensitive person hidden within him.

Some time later, he decided he wanted to surprise his son who had a summer job working underground in one of the remaining mines still in operation.  He picked me up around 6pm, said he’d just had breakfast with his son, said goodbye to him, then headed up to the mineshaft with a handful of us – me with my camera.  We had the thrill of being dropped to the 27th stope into the strange world of strange noises and even stranger lighting. Ray found his son in busy occupation, tapped him on the shoulder, & when  the fellow turned in shocked surprise, I luckily captured the moment – the surprised son and the chuckling father. Ray was like that, possessed an amazingly human touch in so much of what he did.

I learned that he also water-skied barefoot and was able to prove it one day at his place on Half Moon Bay. Like a trouper, he got behind a motorboat wearing skis, then at top speed let them fall off and took a series of what I’d consider death defying twists & turns for about 10 minutes before returning with that  characteristic mix of smug satisfaction and pure nonchalance. I have photos to prove it.

Joe Kirkish

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Les,

Remembering Tech’s President Ray Smith–It was the middle sixties and the era of James Bond and his famous Aston Martin DB5.  Tech gets a new president, Ray Smith, and he is driving an Aston Martin!  That gave me an inspirational lift to keep keep pushing forward through the winter gloom to finish that Tech degree so I could aspire someday to get a car like that.

Al Stevens 1966

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Dr. Smith was my graduate school advisor in 1963 and 64. He was the best professor and leader I have had the pleasure of knowing. He was a busy man transitioning from advisor and  department head to Univ. President, but always had time to help me thru Grad school.

When I entered Tech in 1960, I attended a seminar hosted by Dr. Smith. He was recruiting for the Metallurgical Engineering school and  I joined the program after hearing his discussion about what kind of career one might expect in that discipline.

He was right on target. I left Tech with a BS and MS in metallurgical Engineering and had a very successful career ending up in middle management for IBM.

I will always be thankful for his help and  guidance and consider it an honor to have known him.

Regards:

Mel Gardner (63)

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As a freshman in 1968, I remember the last line from President Smith’s welcoming speech. He apparently loved his car and he told us that, when we see him driving around campus, it is not an “Austin” Martin. It is an “Aston” Martin!

Jim Accetta ‘73

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Dr Smith officiated at my graduation in 1979, Ray Meese gave me my diploma. I am so proud to have in the presence of these 2 men, MTU is one of the highlights of my life, Dr Smith was a HUGE influence on this University.

My deepest condolence to his family, he was a great influence at MTU and thank them for their support of the system.

RIP Dr Smith

Hilary Dussing ‘79

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I was there from ’73 to ’76.  He was a constant presence on the campus at that time.  We always referred to him as Yukon Ray for some unknown reason.  This was a time of building and positive image of the university, and a lot of it was attributed to his hard work and promotion at the time.  A class act, and sorry to hear of his passing.

Mike Brandt ‘76, 356 WWH.

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I am saddened to hear of the passing of former MTU President Raymond Smith, who was President when I was an undergraduate at MTU from 1975-1980.  I remember he was always visible at various sporting events and other functions.

Linda M. Hensel (Wieczorek) Geol. Eng., Go To Consulting LLC

Go Huskies!

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Ray was an icon in the business and educational arena. He was a strong believer in the principles of life while being a dynamic and natural leader. Ray was appointed to our Board of Directors while I was an officer of Lake Shore Inc during the 1980’s. He was always inquisitive and looking for solutions thereby actively and effectively participating in the Company’s success and development. A great person who was loved and respected by all those that knew him.

Bruce R. Clark 1969 BSME

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When I was the manager of the combined computer center after we moved to the Ad building I was riding up in the elevator with Ray when we stopped at the first floor and a student got on with us. After the doors closed Ray turned to the student and said “so, why did you call this meeting”? The student turned ash white and looked like he was going to die. Ray had a great sense of humor and we often talked about aviation, both being pilots.

Jon Wenger

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Ray Smith was my Metallurgical Engineering instructor the first year I spent at the Houghton Campus.  I was impressed with his dog sledding stories at the university of Alaska as well as his teaching abilities, of course, but mostly, I was impressed with the fact that he knew me and every one else in our class and made it a point to know all 40 of us by the end of our first week.  He eventually became my graduate school Advisor as well, which offered even more opportunities to learn from him. Yes, he was a great President, but that was after I graduated.

George M. Goodrich

Class of ’63 & ’65

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I have a couple memories of Dr. Smith from my days at Tech.  The first involves his installation ceremony, which was a grand affair held along with a banquet in the Wadsworth Hall dining hall.  I was manager of the student employees at the time as was responsible for setting up the room and organizing the student staff involved with serving the food and clearing and washing the dishes.  The event was on a Friday. The high muckity muck organizers wanted to have only one entre to keep it simple, and they wanted it to be roast beef. The complication was that at that time, Roman Catholics were not allowed to eat meat on Fridays.  A call to the Bishop in Marquette resulted in a “dispensation” from the rule for those attending the ceremony, and it all went off without a hitch.

My other memory involved Dr. Smith’s approach to decision-making.  In 1966-ish the Auditor General of Michigan recommended changing our method for allocating funds to student activities such as The Lode, the yearbook and many others.  Dr. Smith could easily have just ordered the change. He didn’t. He recognized that the change might be controversial, and that broader input might result in more commitment to the change and a smoother implementation process.  Thus, he created a blue-ribbon committee comprised of the Comptroller and other administrators, and student leaders of which I was one.

After much info gathering and discussions with affected parties, we agreed with the change, and we had a plan for implementing it that was broadly satisfactory.

While attending the Alumni Reunion in 2007 I was able to chat with Dr. Smith and told him how his approach was a lesson for me that I used many times over the years to good effect.  He was very pleased to receive this feedback; and I was pleased to be able to tell him, for seldom do we get or make the opportunity to do so.

Don Ingersoll  ‘67

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Thanks for the opportunity to express my appreciation for the influence Dr. Dr. Smith had on my career.

Dr. Smith was one of the three most influential people in my life.  As a 17 year old 1959 graduate of Republic High School, 5th in a class of 16, my older brother Kenny, a graduate of Tech, convinced me to apply for admission, and to study metallurgy.  Dr. Smith had just become Head of the Department. During the Fall term of my sophomore year, I took my first metallurgy class, taught by Dr. Smith. It was a course in extractive metallurgy, which I didn’t find very interesting and wasn’t doing well.  On an early exam, he wrote a note, “Come to my office, you should be doing better than this”. I went to his office not knowing what to expect. He said that based on my high school records, I should be doing better. It impressed me that he would even consider teaching a sophomore level course, let alone review high school records of sophomores.  I told him the class wasn’t very interesting and if this is what metallurgy is all about, I would consider transferring into nuclear engineering. He said do me a favor, hang in there for two more terms, and if you still want to transfer, I’ll personally walk with you to the nuclear department and help you transfer. That inspired me to work much harder, and eventually earned an A grade, and then took my first class in physical metallurgy, and was hooked.

After graduation, he selected me as one of five students to stay on as a graduate student in the M.S. program (Tech had not yet offered a PhD).  I eventually earned a PhD in Metallurgy at the University of Illinois, and after graduation I accepted a position as an Assistant Professor at Arizona State University, responsible for developing a Materials Science degree program.  I met Dr. Smith several times in Arizona over the years and appreciate those memories.

I know my life would have taken a much different turn without his advice and his sincere interest in the success of his students.  

Les Hendrickson

Lester E. Hendrickson, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus

Fulton College of Engineering

Arizona State University

Tempe Arizona

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Two strong memories: Ray was straightforward. Of Michigan Technological University he said, we will be Michigan Tech. For me in Humanities,  I understood him to say that the Humanities program would be one suited to Michigan Tech, unique in the state, recognizable in the nation.  That was direction enough.

And a three or four day retreat,  Department Heads, Deans, Ray and Dean Stebbins, at a lake in Canada. Work in the morning, fishing in late afternoon or after dark. He led us one afternoon by boat to a second lake,  a sort of portage across sandbars and through reeds between the two lakes, too shallow for our boats to cross. Ray was the first one out of a boat into the water to drag a boat across a bar. The season was late fall, Canada, the water cold and colder.

Someone else will remember better than I do the story of Ray opening a state appropriations hearing by doing magic tricks — the only way to manage a proposed appropriation.

The last time I saw Ray was a Saturday  morning, 1999 or 2000. I was in my office doing some work. Ray came in. He’d come over from Metallurgy. Seeing who was up to what. A rare treat. A remarkable man.

Bill Powers


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