May 23, 2010 : Dayton Daily News, © 2010 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.. Reprinted with permission.
Fred Smith Spend Decades After Retirement in Service to Dayton
Miami Valley Hospital, Sinclair Community College and The Dayton Foundation might not have achieved their current success without the vision and persistence of Frederick C. Smith.
Smith, the retired chief executive and board chairman of Huffy Corporation, died May 16. He was 93.
Smith’s greatest works occurred after his 1976 retirement from Huffy, said Mike Parks, president of The Dayton Foundation, where Smith served as board chair from 1979 to 1989. “The last 35 years of his life was spent in total service to his community,” Parks said.
Smith also served as chairman of the boards of Sinclair and Miami Valley Hospital, as well as president of the United Way of Dayton. He was a driving force behind the creation of the Job Center, Sinclair Foundation, Montgomery County Human Services Levy and the Out-of-School Youth Initiative.
“He was such a soft-spoken man, but could move mountains in this community,” said Lucious Plant, Montgomery County workforce development manager. As a former “Fortune 500” corporation chief executive, Smith knew how to get things done, he said.
Miami Valley Hospital “would either not exist or be a mere shadow of its former self” had Smith not served as its board chairman from 1976 to 1985, said Tom Breitenbach, chief executive of Premier Health Partners.
Smith arrived at a turbulent time when the hospital was on the ropes financially. “There were weeks that they were delaying paying vendors in order to make payroll,” Breitenbach said.
Breitenbach credited Smith’s inspiration for making Miami Valley Hospital a financially strong institution that has been named Dayton’s best hospital for 14 consecutive years.
Smith served on Sinclair’s board for 15 years, five as chair, and spearheaded a multi-million dollar campaign that funded the college through 2000. A campus auditorium is named in his honor.
Smith “helped the board and the community understand what the full mission of Sinclair was,” said David Ponitz, the college’s former president.
Under Smith, The Dayton Foundation’s assets rose from 16 funds and $3.3 million in 1979 to 229 funds and almost $29 million in 1989. Today it has more than 3,000 funds and $300 million in assets.
“It absolutely would not have happened without Fred Smith,” Parks said, praising his passion, leadership, conviction and persistence.
Smith used to say “We’re all doing termite work,” meaning to take small bites and never give up, said Deborah Feldman, Montgomery County administrator. “That no matter how hard the task in front of us, that with perseverance and tenacity we could accomplish great things,” she said.
Smith spurred the creation of the Job Center as a one-stop center for the unemployed and established the Improved Solutions for Urban Systems (ISUS) schools to provide an alternative education for students who dropped out of high school.
“His commitment to the most vulnerable citizens of this community was truly unparalleled,” Feldman said.
Smith signed a historical preservation easement in 2006 to prevent future development on his 7.09-acre property at 6320 Mad River Road in Washington Twp.
Future owners of the property will be required to preserve the 19th-century vernacular/20th century-Colonial Revival home and 1840s bank barn, the home of Smith and his late wife, Pfeife, who died in 2004. Any exterior changes to the house, barn and land will have to be approved by Preservation Ohio.
Smith’s personal accomplishments were surpassed only by his inspiration to the next generation of Dayton’s business and civic leaders, Breitenbach said.
“Hopefully, that’s one of his lasting legacies, as well,” Feldman said. “That the impact that those people who worked with him can continue to have on this community because they learned from Fred,” she said.
Click here to read more about Fred Smith's accomplishments while serving as chair of The Dayton Foundation's Governing Board..
From the Dayton Daily News of May 23, 2010.
© 2010 Dayton Newspapers, Inc. Reprinted with permission.
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File date: 05-24-2010