TROY Ala. (TROJANVISION) — Inspiration, mentor, friend. Those are only some of the words used to describe Robert W. Smith.
Smith died after complications from cardiac surgery, leaving behind a legacy of hard work and a love for his students.
“His reputation was built on solid evidence, on solid work,” said Director of Bands Dr. Mark Walker. “There was a great talent there, but more importantly, in my opinion, there was an incredible work ethic.”
“He was an immensely creative thinker, but he also was a great teacher,” said Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts Dr. Michael Thrasher. “[Smith was] someone who was deeply invested in the lives of his students.”
Smith served as the Director of Bands for the Sound of the South following the retirement of Dr. Johnny Long in 1997. Later on, Smith traveled the world with Warner Brothers and reached further into the music and entertainment industry. He returned to Troy in 2006 to teach in the Music Industry Program.
“Lots of times we would discuss here and we would talk about not only students,” said Interim Director of the School of Music Dr. Hui-Ting Yang. “We would talk about the music industry: what’s in the future, the vision, and how much we can take this program on. Basically, we’ve become even closer.”
After returning to Troy, Smith created the student group POPulus, which has performed in many events locally and globally. Senior Raleigh Singleton remembers how Smith’s influence helped their performance.
“He let us know how well we did and that he really believes we were pros,” Singleton said. “He always put us first, his students.”
Smith is survived by his wife Susan Smith and two daughters. Those who knew Smith say his family was the most important thing to him.
“Robert’s love of his family, of his girls, really eclipses everything else,” Walker explained. “When I think of Robert, I’m going to remember him as my friend and a family man.”
Overall, Smith will be remembered for his influence in the Music Industry program, as well as his love of music and those around him.
“We as storytellers keep having to tell the story forward,” said Doc Kirby, a former colleague of Smith’s. “‘Hey, this music industry thing, let me tell you about the guy that started it.’ and that’s the best thing we can do for any of our professors that we lose, but particularly one who birthed a program like this.”
Thrasher said he wants to make sure the memory of Robert W. Smith lives on for years to come.
Visitation for Smith will be held Thursday, Sep. 28 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Dillard Funeral Home in Troy. Services will be held Sep. 29 at 2 p.m. at Claudia Crosby Theatre on Troy University’s main campus.