JARS v44n1 - In Memoriam: Al W. Smith

In Memoriam: Al W. Smith
Weldon and Virginia Delp
Harrisville, Pennsylvania

We were devastated by the passing of our dear friend, genus Rhododendron enthusiast, and all around "Mr. Nice Guy", Al Smith, in June of 1989.

Al was born and raised, an only child, in the Niagara Falls, Ontario region. He attended McMasters University in Hamilton, Ontario and from 1944 to 1977 he worked for Cyanimid of Canada. In 1948 he married Olive Summersides and they had four children, two boys, Kevin and Eric, and two girls, Sandy and Debby. At the time of his death there were four grandchildren.

In 1977 he was employed, as a hybridizer, by The Horticultural Research Institute of Ontario located in Vineland. Al was a self taught horticulturist and an outstanding one. He began collecting rhododendrons in 1954 and developed a great love for them. This motivated him to learn all he could about these plants and once he developed this interest it was uphill to excellence.

We became acquainted with Al in 1980 and it was love and respect at first sight. One could not help loving that man. Knowledge, seed, pollen and plant exchanges exploded and overflowed. We were not strangers to the border patrol.

Al was instrumental in the forming of the Niagara Region Chapter of the Rhododendron Society of Canada and was one of its most valuable members. He was a great organizer and promoter as well as an educator. Al shared his vast knowledge of plants through his speaking engagements and his willingness to help others with their horticultural problems. He was most generous in the sharing of seed, pollen, plants and knowledge with all who expressed an interest.

Al Smith leaves us with only the fondest of memories and gratitude for having enriched our lives and the lives of all who came in contact with him. We can rejoice in the knowledge that we were greatly blessed for having been his friends.