Raymond L. (Ray) Smith


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portrait of Ray Smith

Raymond L. Smith, undated
photo credit: D.T. Halkola (1985)


Raymond L. (Ray) Smith lived a remarkable life filled with economic challenges, adversity, adventure, academic achievement, and profound organizational success for all of the 101 years of his life. His compassion for education combined with his love for humanity to produce a truly extraordinary human being. He was the only graduate of the University of Alaska to become a President of another university—Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan.

Early Years in New England

Raymond L. (Ray) Smith was born January 25th, 1917 in Vanceboro, Maine, at the confluence of 21-mile- long Spednic Lake and the St. Croix River, near the International boundary between Maine and New Brunswick, Canada. Ray Smith was raised in a matriarchal family. Ray's mother, Genevieve Gatcomb, was born in New Brunswick, Canada, the daughter of a sea captain. She was a smart, attractive woman who married Ivan Smith when she was only 16 years old. Ivan was an alcoholic, addicted to gambling, and prone to violence. By the time she was 21, when Ivan divorced her, Genevieve had four children, Leslie, Flow, Ralph, and Ray, to feed and take care of. Genevieve exhibited creativity and financial competence as she kept her family together. For example, all of her children worked together, sponsoring weekly silent films events in Vanceboro, which helped pay the family's bills. Ray developed an enormous amount of love and respect for his mother, which lasted his entire life. Late in life, he wrote a book of poetry titled, 'Genevieve', honoring her. When Genevieve married Alton Robertson years later, Ray referred to his stepfather Alton as "my real dad".

Although Genevieve managed to make ends meet for her children for more than a decade, the onset of the Great Depression caused her and the family great financial duress. At the age of 14, Ray became a logger, cutting down commercial timber, preparing limbed and debarked logs for transport; all the while enduring clouds of mosquitos and black flies in the woods of Maine. At the time, there was no real effective insect repellant available. Once, a fallen tree crushed his hand. He managed to make it to the Vanceboro hospital, where doctors wanted to amputate the hand. His older sister Flow, who was a nurse at the facility, convinced the hospital staff not to amputate Ray's hand, which later healed (M. Cox Rich, oral commun., 2020).

In 1932, Ray participated in his first 'river drive,' when the Vanceboro logging industry would use Spednic Lake and the St. Croix River to float log rafts to saw mills in both northern USA and in Canada. The work was dangerous and often involved the use of dynamite to break up log jams, or pulley systems to lift heavy logs over one another in order to reestablish movement of the floating log rafts. To begin his first ever business venture, Ray built a boat, humorously nicknamed 'the coffin', to facilitate movement of his own log rafts, but 'the coffin' sank in the St. Croix River and Ray and his partner nearly drowned. In 1933, Ray began another business venture sawing cordwood for the pulp industry. As demand for logs and wood products weakened as a result of the seemingly, never-ending Great Depression, Ray moved south out of Maine and into other New England states. In 1934, he had labored in the potato fields of Aroostook County, Maine but there was almost no other work opportunities in New England afterwards. As Smith remembered in a commencement address at Michigan Tech in 2010 (Smith, 2012c):

"I rode the railroad box cars, found grub in hobo jungles, ducked the railroad bulls, swamped out flea houses, washed dishes and stood in bread lines—anything to get by on. It was expected that everyone had to contribute to the hobo jungle stew pot. For me it was chickens because I found out that chicken houses were pretty good to sleep in once you made friends with the rooster . Hobos acquire names like Michigan Slim or Preacher Jones. One wise guy called me Chicken Smith. I didn't like that so got into a fight which I handily lost, but was able to keep my name Smitty."

In 1936, Ray landed his first permanent job, which paid $30/month and included board, room, and laundry. It was at the Hartford Retreat, a mental institution in Hartford, Connecticut. In order to interview for the job of 'Psychiatric Aid', or a companion to mental patients, he went to a pawn shop, the owner of which let him borrow a suit, tie, socks, shirt, and shoes and gave him a little money to get a haircut, a bath, and a shave. Ray got the job, which lasted for three years. The job at the Hartford Retreat was demanding and required strenuous training. Each category of instruction progressed from taking care of mostly people suffering from the effects of alcohol or drug abuse to more serious forms of mental illness such as Paranoid Schizophrenia or Manic Depression, where he sometimes encountered patients prone to violence. He also progressed to taking care of patients that were considered 'hopeless' and often dangerous. Ray would remark later in life that the work experience at the Hartford Retreat taught him to exhibit patience, fairness, and kindness with all people that he encountered, while at the same time, acquire an understanding of the capabilities, potential and failings of each individual.

By 1939, Ray had managed to save enough money to obtain a private aircraft pilots license in Hartford, and buy a Harley 74 motorcycle, which he traded for an aging, 1928 Model A Ford. Initially Ray wanted to: 1) either buy an airplane and possibly establish a flying business in the Great Lakes area; or 2) go north to Alaska and search for gold. He found a biplane for sale but someone bought it before he could. With irony, he watched the aircraft that he wanted to buy crash and burn after takeoff; fortunately there were no serious injuries. He took that as a sign to head north to Alaska. In August, Ray and his friend, Lloyd Atwood, crossed the United States in the old Ford on worn-out tires, adding oil every few miles to the worn-out engine, and managed to make it to Seattle, Washington. His partner, Lloyd, had no money whatsoever so Ray bought steerage tickets for both on the steamship Aleutian bound for Alaska.

Ray Smith's Early Years at the University of Alaska

Ray and Lloyd had originally planned on disembarking from the Aleutian at Seward and ride the Alaska Railroad to Fairbanks, but for logistical reasons, decided to disembark at Valdez. They managed to get aboard a commercial truck heading up the Richardson Highway, which, at the time, was a crude pack trail upgraded to a wagon toll road. The road was in poor shape and it took several grueling days to get to Fairbanks. The Golden Heart City was initially a letdown. The FE Company, the large gold dredging firm that operated in the Fairbanks district, was experiencing a labor strike and there were no jobs available in town. Ray and Lloyd had only limited funds and winter was coming.

Ray Smith had never imagined that he would actually enroll at the University of Alaska; that is not why he came north to the Last Frontier. Someone in Fairbanks told Ray and Lloyd that the university was about six miles to the west of town, and that they could walk the Alaska Railroad tracks to get there, which they did. When they climbed the long stairs up the hill to the university, they were greeted by a short, elderly man digging a ditch with a shovel, pick, and wheel barrel--in dirty, worn-out work clothes. Ray told the ditch digger that he could dig ditches for food and pay. The ditch digger said he didn't know of any more work, but directed them to a nearby house and told them to hang around until five o'clock, knock on the door and ask the lady if she had any food to spare. Reluctantly they waited and were greeted by Eunice Collins, President Bunnell's housekeeper. She invited them in, asked them to sit down and indicated that President Bunnell would be there shortly. When the old ditch digger appeared in a suit and tie, they knew they had been duped but stayed for dinner anyway. At dinner, Bunnell talked them into enrolling in the University as tuition free Alaskan residents as they had stopped in Juneau on their way to Fairbanks and thus were residents of the Territory (Noyes, 2001).

President Bunnell owned a log cabin in need of repair near the junction of Noyes Slough and the Chena River, where they could stay and repair it for rent. Both Lloyd and Ray decided to enroll in the University educational programs—with Ray selecting the School of Mines. That first winter, Ray and Lloyd shared their cabin with another School of Mines student, Ernie Wolff, who had arrived from northern Minnesota the previous year. Ernie had some funds saved and was looking for a place to stay. Ray and Lloyd had already stockpiled fire wood for the winter. For his share, Ernie would buy food stuffs necessary for all three students. Ray stated in his 2010 semi-autobiography Echoes (Smith, 2012c) that Ernie Wolff shaped his life after he arrived in Alaska more than any other man and was "the best pal that I ever had". Lloyd would eventually leave the University, but Ray and Ernie stayed on.

Ray's first Alaskan winter was a magical experience that he never forgot. Ray, Ernie and other students would snare rabbits, pick berries and mushrooms, catch grayling and white fish in area streams, and then go up the Steese Highway and harvest a caribou for winter meat. Ernie, Ray and Ben Atkinson, who also had a dog team, would take runs down to Nenana during the winters, which was about 60 miles west of Fairbanks along the Tanana River. One colorful account in Ray's book Echoes relates how Ernie, Ray and Ben had traveled down to Nenana by dog team but were caught in a winter storm after enjoying themselves in Nenana's 'Sled Dog Saloon' (the name may or may not be real). They had to create a siwash camp and wait out the storm on the way home. They all eventually made it back to their Noyes Slough cabins OK.

While taking classes, another type of education enveloped Ray. Ernie Wolff was from a well-educated family in Minnesota. His father was highly regarded architect while his mother was a senior Registered Nurse. Ernie's upbringing included appreciation of literature and classical music, things that Ray had never experienced during his adolescent years in Maine. Ernie read novels by Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, and Chekov, kept track of worldly events (WWII in Europe had just begun), and listened to classical music and opera on his phonograph. One night, the distant howling of a wolf pack competed with the clear soprano tones of a diva in Puccini's Tosca at the cabin. As Ernie educated Ray about music and literature, he also helped him with learn how to get along in the northern sub-arctic environment. Ernie Wolff also took great pride in his beer-brewing abilities, which, of course, all of the other students at the School of Mines greatly appreciated (Smith 2012c).

smith with dog team circa 1940

LEFT: Ray Smith with dog team while a student of the University of Alaska School of Mines, circa 1940;
RIGHT: AMHF Inductee Ernest Wolff with dog team in 1939 or 1940. UA School of Mines students mushed dog teams for recreation while pursuing their university studies.
Photo Credits: (Smith, 2012).

The Ray Smith-Ted Cox Excellent North Country Prospecting Adventure

There is a colorful account in Smith's Echoes autobiographic sketch of a 1941 prospecting adventure undertaken by him and fellow student and close friend Ted Cox in east-central Alaska near the Canadian border (Smith and Cox, 2012c). The inspiration for the trip, fueled by more than a few beers, came from a conversation with an old time prospector, Harold Pierce, at Tommy's Elbow Room Tavern in downtown Fairbanks, owned by Ray's life-long friends, Joyce and Tommy Paskvan. Pierce had met with an old prospector, Olie Swenson, who quietly disclosed information on a promising placer gold prospect north of Chicken in the historic 40-Mile district. Pierce had acquired about two ounces of fine gold from Swenson's prospect to prove his assertions. Based on Swenson's instructions, Pierce then provided directions to Ray and Ted as to where to go, which included locating the Western Union telegraph line installed there during the mid-19th Century just before the 1867 Alaska Purchase. Downstream from the juncture of the telegraph line and the creek basin was where to explore for placer gold.

Smith and Cox as students at UA

LEFT: Ray Smith and Ted Cox while both attended the University of Alaska in 1940.
RIGHT: Ray Smith, grand- daughter Amy, and Ted Cox along the bank of the Chena River in Fairbanks, during 2009. Sixty nine years separate the two images, symbolic of a life-long friendship.
Photo Credits: Margaret Cox Rich

Ray and Ted were game to try to find the placer gold paystreak. They took off from Weeks Field in Fairbanks in a Stinson bush plane. Ray still had a valid pilots license and served as navigator and backup for the pilot. After arriving in Chicken, the adventurous University of Alaska students, armed only with hand tools, inadequate sleeping bags, not much grub, and no accurate topographic maps, finally located the area and specifically, the old telegraph line in a location just as Pierce had described. After much diligent prospecting, including systematic panning that delineated the relative extent of a gold placer paystreak and other hard work in the mosquito-ridden country, Ray and Ted staked their claims and returned to Fairbanks. But because of, among other things, Rays and Ted's entry into military service during WWII, the students allowed their claims to lapse. Years later, Ray and Ted found out that the claims they had allowed to lapse were re-staked by a large gold dredging firm, which successfully mined the ground; alas—they lost their fortune. At least that is how they wanted to remember it, although they never checked the land records to see if it was their old abandoned claims that were the ones actually dredged for gold.

Ray Smith's WWII Years

Ray enrolled in the University of Alaska, where he obtained a bachelor's degree in mining engineering in 1943 from the School of Mines--with a metallurgy option; he also took several surveying courses. The U.S. Army Air Corps was surveying in 26 Mile Field and a field near Delta Junction as alternative runways to transfer nearly 8,000 military aircraft flown from Great Falls, Montana to Siberia across the Alaska-Siberian (ALSIB) Air Ferry Route to aid then America's ally, the Soviet Union, on the eastern front of WWII (Hayes, 1996). Ladd field on the outskirts of Fairbanks had already been constructed and was on full operational mode for the ALSIB route. Back-up fields to the southeast of town between Delta and Fairbanks were desired, which the former would later become Eielson Air Force Base during the cold war. Ray was hired as one of the leading shis first professional appointment as an engineer. He worked with Alaska Mining Hall of Fame Foundation (AMHF) Inductee Doug Colp, who was also a senior surveyor for the effort. Among aviation personnel that Ray met and worked with during airport construction was Bob Reeves, the future creator of Reeve Aleutian Airways and a famous pioneer Alaskan aviator.

Ray had been taking ROTC courses at the University, in preparation for the obvious—his participation in WWII. On June 1, 1943 Ray Smith received orders to report for Activity Duty (Cashen, 1972, p. 294) as a Private in the U.S. Army Air Corps, and took his training in Aberdeen, Maryland, where he was assigned to Ordinance training. Subsequently, he was promoted to Corporal and served in a factory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he supervised the manufacture of artillery shells. While visiting his brother Leslie in Hartford, Connecticut, he met his future wife, Beatrice, at a night club. Beatrice and Ray were married in Maryland during the fall of 1943. In order to better provide for his new wife, Ray wanted to become an officer, but had sight limitations; he wore glasses. He passed the eye exam by a combination of the contact lenses and memorizing the eye charts. Subsequently, he was quickly promoted to First Lieutenant and became the production engineer for the entire Pittsburgh Ordnance district.

During his military enlistment, he returned several times to Alaska. On one trip, some army barracks at Ladd Field were being dismantled. Ray and Ernie Wolff received permission to salvage the materials, which Ray believed would fit into his plans to build a cabin for him and Beatrice when he finally returned to Alaska.

Ray Smith's Post War Return to Alaska

Ray was discharged from the Army on September 12th, 1946, but was still in the Army Reserves. He was eager to return to the University of Alaska with his wife Beatrice. Because he did very well in mathematics before WWII as a student, the University offered him a position teaching mathematics through the advanced calculus level. By the time Ray and Beatrice arrived in Fairbanks, it was late fall, going into winter. Once again, Ernie Wolff came to the rescue and provided Beatrice and Ray with a five acre piece of land cut out from the 40 acre 'Wolff Estate' later to be known as the 'Wolff Run' subdivision in College. Using the pre-fabricated materials previously salvaged from Ladd Field, Ernie built for Ray and Beatrice a sturdy and remarkably warm structure capable of withstanding the cold Fairbanks winters. Ray and Beatrice had no problems heating the cabin even at -40F.

Ray's teaching career progressed very well, and he quickly developed a reputation as a top notch University instructor. But with his wife expecting a child (Ben), he sought additional employment. Using the metallurgy part of his education, he also worked as a gold assayer, because banks would not buy a miner's gold without a certified assayer certificate showing gold fineness results. Ray did most of his assaying after conducting his teaching duties. Then, he would transport the gold bullion on behalf of the mining client to the selected banking institution. He then would return with a certified check, hard currency, or bank receipt to give to his client. All the miners in Fairbanks, including the FE Company, trusted Ray Smith. Many years later, Ray remembered lugging 50 pound bags of gold bullion to banks in Fairbanks sometimes during dark, early evening hours and completely without escort. He ran into a few inebriated drunks, but was never robbed.

Ray and Ernie hired a prospector working on their behalf doing claim assessment work in the Chandalar district of the Brooks Range above the Arctic Circle. They speculated that their gold claims, which contained high grade gold-quartz veins, would have significant future value. Ernie and Ray had also researched past-productive copper-gold deposits on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska, mainly the Jumbo mine, which had been operated as a mid-sized copper producer by Bill and Charles Sulzer prior to the mid-1920s. AMHF Inductee B. D. Stewart, who was the supervisory mining engineer for the Sulzer brothers at the Jumbo mine, would later serve as Alaska's Commissioner of Mines nearly until Statehood (Bundtzen, 2019). Bill Sulzer was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for New York in the early 20th Century before briefly serving as the Governor of New York; his impeachment by the New York State Legislature in 1913 remains controversial (Hawley, 2004). Bill Sulzer died in 1941. He was inducted into the Alaska Mining Hall of Fame in 2004. Sulzer's widow lived in Philadelphia, and Ray visited her several times upon returning to active Army duty in Pittsburgh. Ray's charm worked; he was able to purchase the copper claims in the Jumbo Basin of Southeast Alaska from Mrs. Sulzer even though her family was strongly against the sale. Subsequently, several partners were assembled by Ray for the mine partnership, but perceiving future grave dissention within the partnership, Ray later sold his share for $10,000. The claims were never developed successfully, so many year's later, Ray felt he made the right decision to sell the Jumbo Basin claims.

Some of Ray Smith's Life-Long Alaskan Friendships

Before World War II, several individuals, all arriving at the University of Alaska during 1938-1939, would have their lives intertwined: Ray Smith, Ted Cox, Ben Atkinson, and Ernie Wolff.

Ted Cox stayed in Fairbanks for the rest of his life. He married Jean Jeffries in Fairbanks, where raised a family and later worked as a CPA. Ted would serve on the Fairbanks City Council in the 1960s, where he briefly served as the acting Mayor of Fairbanks. Ray and Ted (and Margaret Cox Rich) would correspond frequently for the rest of their lives.

Ben Atkinson stayed in Alaska and worked for Building Maintenance at the University with Vince Magnuson until his untimely death in 1966; he was only 49 years old at his passing. He is remembered by the Ben Atkinson coal-fired, thermal power plant that provided electric power and steam heat to the University of Alaska campus from 1966-to-2019.

After earning a degree in mining engineering at the University of Alaska in 1941, Ernie Wolff stayed in Alaska. After graduation, Ernie worked as a research assistant at the College Magnetic Observatory and in 1946 he became the Director of the Observatory (Davis, 1992; Cole, 1994). Later, Wolff left Alaska and obtained both a Masters Degree and a PhD from the University of Oregon, including a teaching stint at Colorado State University. After serving as the Associate Director of the University of Alaska's Mineral Industry Research Laboratory for more than two decades, the noted author and educator retired from the University and remained in Fairbanks. Wolff, who passed away in 2005, was inducted into the AMHF in 2007 (Freeman, 2007).

Ray Smith's Academic Career in Pennsylvania

In the late 1940s, Ray Smith was content teaching at the University of Alaska. He pursued mining business opportunities with Ernie Wolff even though the Alaskan mining industry was experiencing a slow but steady, post-WWII decline. His wife Beatrice enjoyed the frontier town of Fairbanks and quickly made many friends, so there was no reason to leave. However, a good friend, Dick Byrnes, persuaded Ray to seek an advanced degree elsewhere, arguing that he would need an MS or PhD degree if he was to teach at the University of Alaska at a higher Professorial level in the future. Ray applied for graduate school at Yale University and was immediately accepted. Ray was using an instruction manual authored by Robert Brick as a encourage young people for some of his teaching at the University of Alaska and Brick taught at Yale. But when Brick transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, Ray applied for graduate school there and was accepted (Mroz, 2016).

Hence, in 1949, Ray and Beatrice and their young family of two young boys moved to Pennsylvania. Initially, they kept their house in Fairbanks and rented it out, assuming they would return. Ray received a Masters Degree in metallurgical engineering in 1951 and a PhD in metallurgical engineering in 1954, both from the University of Pennsylvania. Upon graduation, he worked for several years as a technical director of the Solid State Physics program at the Franklin Institute of Research in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ray and Beatrice had bought a small farm near Paoli, Pennsylvania and for a time thought this is where Ray would finish his career in teaching. But in 1958, funding for both research and teaching at the Franklin Institute had taken a turn for the worse and programs were in jeopardy. Ray seriously contemplated returning to Alaska.

Ray Smith's Career at Michigan Technological University

Ray heard that Michigan Technological University (Michigan Tech) in Houghton, Michigan was searching for new faculty. Bethlehem Steel was wooing Ray to run their metallurgical division, but he felt that his teaching, academic research and growing managerial skills needed at Michigan Tech fit his personnel aspirations better. He joined the faculty of Michigan Tech in 1959. Ray served as the Chair of the Department of Metallurgical Engineering for six years before becoming the university's sixth President in 1965, serving in that role until 1979. Michigan Tech would experience a period of unparalleled growth during Ray's tenor as President. Under Smith's leadership, Michigan Tech grew from 3,422 students in 1965 to 7,690 in 1979. Faculty members doubled during Smith's tenure and nearly 66 percent of the faculty held PhDs in 1979, compared to 27 percent in 1965 (Halkola, 1985).

The physical configuration of Michigan Tech's campus grew in similar fashion. Under Smith's Presidency, a a long-range physical plan was developed, a new Administration Building, the Electrical Energy Resources Center, the Noblet Forestry Building and Wood Research complex, the Chemical Sciences and Engineering Building, several residence halls, the Student Development Complex, Ice Arena, Gates Tennis Center, and the Engineering Mechanics Building (now named the Raymond L. Smith Building) were all constructed.

Halkola (1985) noted that, to Smith the new buildings and academic programs were a means to an end. Smith wrote in 1976:

"I believe that our outstanding achievements during this period have been our programs to encourage young people, especially women t,o consider Michigan Tech as a place that will challenge their educational aspiration. In the summer of 1970, we had a total of 138 pre-college young people on our campus. Through a well-planned and executed series of programs, this has grown to 3,124 by the summer of 1975.
One of our most successful ventures has been a program to expose young women to the field of engineering. So far more than 600 have gone through the program and 56 percent of those who are eligible for college have elected to take engineering either here or at some other school. As a result, our female enrollment in engineering has grown from 36 in 1970 to 201 in 1975".

In an interview for Michigan Tech Magazine (Mroz, 2016), Ray said:

"When I came to Michigan Tech, I was told you can't talk about money. You can talk about hockey, but we don't raise money here."

After assuming the job as University President, Smith quickly established a foundation to benefit the university, which thrives to this day. Hence Smith's most enduring legacy at Michigan Tech besides the outstanding quality of the student's classroom experience that he and others provided was his creation of a culture of philanthropy at the institution. Today, only 16% of the Michigan Tech operating budget comes from the State of Michigan (per. comm., Staff, Office of Advancement, Michigan Technological University).

When Ray became President of Michigan Tech in 1965, only a few of the university's programs were accredited, something he viewed as a fundamental weakness in the institution. Over many years, he worked hard with the faculty of all programs, including those in engineering, science, and liberal arts toward accreditation. By the time Ray retired from Michigan Tech in 1979, nearly all of the University's programs were accredited.

Building namedi for Smith

The main campus of Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan, undated. The Ray Smith Building is the tallest on the skyline.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons

While Michigan Tech's President, Ray Smith was always supportive of individuals taking a larger view of the world of mining. In this regard he strongly encouraged John R. Poss to publish his treatise: Stones of Destiny, A Story of Man's Quest for Earth's Riches. This comprehensive and well-illustrated account of man's use of minerals and their effect on changing world history was published by Michigan Tech in 1975 with the assistance of the estate of Scott Turner. Ray wrote the Forward for the volume. Although others would publish historical narratives with similar themes, the Poss (1975) work remains one of the best summaries of it's kind.

While Michigan Tech President, Dr. Smith served on numerous state and national committees, including those for Michigan's Governor Milliken, the National Materials Advisory Board, the Office of Technology Assessment, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory as well as service advisory boards for several engineering universities in the U.S. (Halkola, 1985) including the University of Alaska Fairbanks (Noyes, 2001).

After Michigan Tech and 'Retirement'

After retirement from Michigan Tech, Ray's first challenge was reviving a failing newspaper. The Houghton Daily Mining Gazette was in financial trouble. The Board of the newspaper persuaded him to take over the management of the newspaper. He accepted the position of Chairman of the Board of the newspaper on the condition that he had free rein on making needed management changes. Ray implemented a number of cost-cutting measures, and within a year, the popular newspaper was revived. But there was significant resentment on the Board of the newspaper that Ray didn't always consult them on every management decision he made. With his goals successfully achieved and the newspaper solvent again, Ray left the newspaper.

His next challenge was assuming the Presidency of the American Society of Metals and Materials (ASM). This non-profit organization, one of the largest of its type in the world, supported research in the mining and petroleum fields, and provided scholarships and education to science and engineering curriculum across the U.S. When Ray assumed the Presidency, it was just a figure head position. But this didn't fit Rays' mold. He did not accept any salary, but like the former newspaper project challenge, he insisted that he be given more influence on which was ASM was headed—which he got. Under his leadership, ASM expanded opportunities to mining engineering students worldwide.

In 1982, Ray Smith received the Outstanding Alumni Award at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks School of Mines. Soon after, he , also receive the Robert Yarnall Award from his other alma materthe University of Pennsylvania. In quick succession, he would receive honorary doctorates from Michigan Tech, Northern Michigan University, Western Michigan University, and the South Dakota School of Mines. An avid Rotarian, Ray became a Paul Harris Fellow of that organization. He became an honorary member of the Michigan Tech Academy of Metallurgists. Finally, Ray received the Melvin Calvin Award of Distinction from Michigan Tech (the University's highest honor) in 2010 (Goodrich, 2010; Mroz, 2016).

In the 1980s, Ray and Beatrice decided to retire in Green Valley, just a few miles from Tucson, Arizona. The climate there was mild and he and his wife were still quite athletic and took many excursions into Arizona's vast mining districts while living there.

During the 1990s, Ray Smith served as a Board member of the Lake Superior and Ishpeming Railroad based in Marquette, Michigan. He also served on the Community Water Board of Green Valley, Arizona. He also became, for a time, a Vice President of the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers (AIME), and like his duties at the ASM, continued mining educational advocacy work for the organization (Mroz, 2016).

While in Arizona, Ray Smith oversaw a U.S. Forest Service volunteer group, the Hazardous Abandoned Mine Finders (HAMF), consisting of eight people that searched out, located, and posted over 6,000 abandoned mine shafts in southern Arizona. The mine shafts were a recognized hazard for Arizona's growing tourist industry, so finding the old workings was a priority for State and Federal agencies in Arizona (Smith, 2012b).

Throughout his life, Ray Smith wrote poetry, practically about anything that inspired him at the moment. He also composed several books with his poetry and honored many in his life, including his mother, his (first) wife Beatrice, family members, and friends (Smith, 2011, 2012a,b). Friends like Ernie Wolff would say poetry was spontaneous for Ray; he just had to express his feelings about events confronting him. While leading a HAMF Group in southern Arizona, his group was having lunch in a grove of Manzanita trees. He quickly composed the following:

"What a beautiful thing is the shrub Manzanita
The bark dark and smooth like my little Conchita
She lives in Nogales by the red adobe school
The bush thrives in mountains where sir is dry and cool
The leaves of this plant are dark green and round
Not like the black silk of Conchita's sweet mound
But the scent wafting out of the Manzanita leaves
Like her lips, sweet and moist in the soft morning breeze (Smith, 2012b)"

In 1996, Ray returned to Alaska to honor a valued friend, AMHF Inductee Earl Beistline, who had graduated from the University of Alaska in 1939, the year that Ray arrived at the University. Beistline served as the Dean of the University of the Alaska School of Mines and later the Provost of the entire University for many years before his retirement in 1982. At Earl's 80th birthday celebration in 1996, Ray Smith traveled to Fairbanks to deliver the following succinct address:

"I want to let you (Earl) know how much I hold you in high esteem and how you were always a model on how I wanted to live my life. You (Earl) have made a superb contribution to Alaska mining, your University, and to the Fairbanks community (Bundtzen, 2012)."

In 1997, Ray again came north to Fairbanks, Alaska to deliver the keynote address at The International Symposium on Mining—1850-to-2000 and Beyond. The symposium, which explored the 100th Anniversary of the Klondike Gold Rush, was organized by William R. Wood, a past President of the University of Alaska and Executive Director of Festival Fairbanks, Inc, and Earl Beistline. Ray's address: The Impact of Mining, Minerals and Metals on Society, followed the general theme advocated in the John Poss (1975) volume Stones of Destiny. Ray's 45 page single-spaced paper included more than 90 information citations. Numerous slides were used to illustrate the themes of the paper, which was reviewed and edited by nearly a dozen experts in the mining historical field. Coming north to Fairbanks for the mining symposium gave Ray and Beatrice the opportunity to reunite with many old friends, including Ted Cox and his family, Earl Beistline and his family, Ernie Wolff and his family and many other acquaintances (Margaret Cox Rich, pers. commun., 2019).

In 1999, his wife of 56 years, Beatrice Smith, tragically and suddenly died from a brain aneurysm while repairing a roof at their home in Arizona. After a grieving period, Ray continued, at the age of 82, to keep himself busy. While participating in a Gold Symposium in Raleigh, North Carolina, after he had presented a long, one hour lecture on an aspect of the gold industry, Ray met Rachel Malcom, a widow. When they were later formally introduced, she laughed and said "My first boy friend was named Ray Smith". Ray was 85 years old. Rachel was 72 years old. Later they married. Ray and Rachel traveled extensively throughout the world, including China, Chile, and Australia. They would make another trip to Alaska in 2009 to visit friends in Ray's old camper driving up the ALCAN Highway when Ray was 92 years old.

smith and important women

LEFT: Beatrice and Ray Smith in Fairbanks, circa 1947; RIGHT: Racheal Malcom and Ray Smith undated.
Photos courtesy of Margaret Cox Rich

Ray Smith's Passing and Remembrance

Ray Smith passed away peacefully on September 18th, 2018 at his home in Green Valley, Arizona at the age of 101. Michigan Technological University President Richard Koubek provided this tribute:

"Just walking through the campus, it's impossible not to see the evidence of President Smith's accomplishments. Michigan Tech is what it is today, in large part, because of Ray Smith."

Wilcox (2018) added another tribute:

"Ray Smith was one of Michigan Technological University's most influential leaders and fiercest supporters of all time."

Important to this induction ceremony, Ray Smith was the only graduate of the University of Alaska to become the President of another major university. When questioned about his many academic and educational achievements, he often stated that "it all started at the University of Alaska". Ray made many trips to Alaska after he left the Territory and later, the 49th State of the United States. Fairbanks and the University of Alaska always had a very special place in Ray's heart. The Alaska Mining Hall of Fame Foundation is honored to induct this great and memorable man into the organization.

A Personal Remembrance Paul Metz

I first met Dr. Raymond L. (Ray) Smith shortly after he was appointed Michigan Tech President in January, 1965. I was a member of the Michigan Tech Newman Club, a Catholic Student organization that operated an aging boarding facility across US41 from the University President's residence. I was a new resident member, and had assumed the position of Dining Stewart. We fed the 20 residents and another 10 members that had rooms in private homes nearby. At our first Monday evening meeting after the announcement of the appointment, I suggested that we invite Dr. Smith and his wife Beatrice for dinner at their earliest convenience. The suggestion met with serious apprehension. I indicated we should not make assumptions and at least give him the opportunity decline an invitation. The call was made the next day, Dr. Smith's Secretary did not say she would have to check his schedule and would get back to me in due course, she simply said hold on, posed the question to him, I heard him say "yes" and then "when and at what time"? My reply was Saturday, 6:00 PM, the Newman House is at 1301 Ruby. His reply, "We shall be there, thanks."

Our cook managed to find sufficient resources for a very nice dinner. After dinner, Ray and Beatrice stayed very late, questioned everyone about where they were from, their majors, and aspirations after graduation. The next Monday several members met Dr. Smith on their way to and from classes, he stopped them, called them by their first names and indicated that he and his wife enjoyed their first invitation to dinner after his appointment.

The second time we had a formal meeting, was in June 1968, at my graduation from Michigan Tech and my Commissioning as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. After spending five years on active duty, I resigned my Regular Commission in the Air Force in 1973 to attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks for second graduate degree in Economic Geology. In spite of their strong academic credentials, none on my graduate committee had research funding to support an examination of intrusion-related gold mineralization. They suggested I approach the Director of the Mineral Industry Research Laboratory (MIRL) at the University of Alaska, Dr. Ernest N. Wolf, for possible funds to support the project. Oddly enough, I had been given a copy of his book, Handbook for the Alaskan Prospector in 1973 as a going away gift from fellow officers at Elmendorf. I met with Dr. Wolff in early 1974 to seek financial support. Ernie said there were no funds available in the MIRL budget, but then promptly reached into his pocket and handed me four $100 bills and said, "Will this help?" The answer was a prompt yes, and then he asked where I had completed my undergraduate studies. I told him Michigan Tech. He smiled and asked if I ever had an occasion to meet Ray Smith. I told him about the diner invitation after Dr. Smith's appointment to the Presidency of the university and the swearing ceremony for my Air Force Commission at graduation. Ernie then talked briefly about the circumstances of his acquaintance with Ray while they were students, and about Ray's teaching career at the University of Alaska. There was no hint of their life-long friendship.

In the fall of 1975, my Graduate Committee Chair, Don Grybeck, informed me that he had received funding from the U.S. Bureau of Mines (USBM) through MIRL for a review and compilation of published and unpublished data on the mineral resources in part of Interior Alaska and suggested that I write a parallel proposal through MIRL for a similar project on the gold and silver resources of the rest of Alaska. A few months before graduation, Don announced his intention to resign from the Geology Department. Don requested that I assume his role as Principle Investigator for the USBM-funded project, should the university hire me in May. On meeting with Dr. Wolff, he stipulated that I must agree to meet with President Smith during my next visit to Northern Michigan.

In September, I traveled to Houghton and would be arriving late on Friday of the next week and indicated that I could meet with President Smith at his convenience. The discussion was initially about Ernie and Ray's other classmates that were still in Alaska. We eventually moved on to the state of the mining industry and the impact of proposed federal legislation on the availability mineral resources in the State of Alaska. We discussed his work with professional organization with respect to mineral resources, particularly those in Alaska, and his input to Congress on mineral and energy resources in general. Before I left, he asked if would be available for a local radio interview on Alaska Land and Mineral Resource Issues. The radio interview took place the next week.

In 1978, through funding from the U.S. Office of Surface Mining, the School of Mineral Industry Advisory Committee was formed. The first committee members included: Dr. Nolan Augenbaugh, University of Missouri-Rolla (formerly Missouri School of Mines); Frank DeLong, President, North Pole Refinery; Eugene Griffin, Union Oil Company; David Heatwole, Anaconda Copper Company; AMHF Inductee Charles Herbert, BP Minerals Alaska (and a former Alaska Commissioner of Natural Resources); Roger Markle, President, Valley Camp Coal Company; Hugh Matheson, President, Placer Development Ltd.; AMHF Inductee Patrick O'Neil, President, Rosario Resources Corporation; Ross Schaff, Alaska State Geologist; Vernon Scheid, Dean, Mackay School of Mines; Howard Slack, ARCO Alaska; Dr. Raymond Smith, President, Michigan Tech University; and Joe Usibelli Sr., President, Usibelli Coal Mines, Inc. The Committee was established to advise the Dean of the School of Mineral Industry Earl Beistline and other decision makers at the University of Alaska the school's role in the education of professionals for the mineral and energy industries and the needs of the State of Alaska for the development and management of it's natural resources.

Also in 1978, MIRL completed an assessment of the lands in Alaska open to entry under the state and federal mining laws (Metz and others, 1978; updated in 1979). The assessment was funded by the U.S. Bureau of Mines (USBM) at the request of the Federal/State Land Use Planning Commission. The report was sent to the Alaska District Office of the USBM in Juneau and arrived on a Saturday morning. AMHF Inductee John Mulligan, Chief of the USBM Alaska District, met the Alaska Airlines flight and took the report to his office where his secretary telexed the report to the Director of the USBM in Washington, D.C. The MIRL report was shared to members of the Alaska Congressional Delegation and the State Legislature. Afterward, Ernie sent a copy of the MIRL report to Ray as he was in an advisory role to the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment. Ray continued to provide scientific and technical assessments of the significance of Critical and Strategic Minerals in Alaska with respect to the economy and security of the U.S. and Alaska even after he retired from Michigan Technological University. The outcomes of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) were not optimal from the perspective of many Alaskans, but it could have been more deleterious to the long term economy of the State and Nation without the professional dialog provided by Dr. Raymond L. Smith.

Dr. Paul A. Metz from the University of Alaska Institute of Northern Engineering nominated Raymond L. (Ray) Smith in 2018 for Induction into the Alaska Mining Hall of Fame.

This Biographic Sketch was compiled by Tom Bundtzen. An earlier version of the manuscript was reviewed by Paul Glavinovich and Jo Antonson. The AMHF especially thanks Margaret Cox Rich and Janie Smith for providing important reference materials and many personal recollections with Ray Smith that took place over many years of Ray's life.

Published and Unpublished References used in this Biographic Sketch

Author unstated, 2017, GV Metallurgist, abandoned mine hunter hits the big 100: Green Valley News, January 25th, 2017, 3 pages.

Bishop, Sam, 2017, Ray Smith '43, Biographic sketch of Ray Smith; in Aurora; University of Alaska-Fairbanks Alumni Newsletter, one page.

Bundtzen, T.K., 2007, Earl Hoover Beistline, in, Bundtzen, editor, Alaska Mining Hall of Fame Foundation inducts six pioneers during 2007: The Paystreak, Volume 9, No. 1, page 32-37.

Bundtzen, T.K., 2019, The United States Bureau of Mines and its Role in the Alaska Mining Industry, in, Bundtzen, editor, Alaska Mining Hall of Fame Honors Three Pioneers of the U.S. Bureau of Mines: The Paystreak, volume 20, No. 1, pages 8-19.

Cashen, W.R., 1972, Farthest North College President: Charles E. Bunnell and the early history of the University of Alaska: University of Alaska Press, Fairbanks, Alaska, 387 p.

Cole, Terrence, 1994, The Cornerstone on College Hill: University of Alaska, Press, 393 p.

Cox Rich, Margaret, 2018, Ted's (Cox) 1939 Diary—Bloomington, Illinois, Fairbanks, Alaska, College, Alaska, unpublished compilation, 69 pages.

Davis, Neil, 1992, The College Hill Chronicles: How the University of Alaska Came of Age: University of Alaska Foundation, Fairbanks, Alaska, 627 p.

Freeman, Curt, 2007, Ernest N. Wolff, in, Bundtzen, T.K., editor, Alaska Mining Hall of Fame Foundation inducts six pioneers during 2007: The Paystreak, Volume 9, No. 1, page 37-41.

Goodrich, Marcia, 2010, Former Tech President Ray Smith Addresses Graduates: Michigan Tech News, April, 4 pages.

Halkola, David T., 1985, Michigan Tech Centennial, 1885-1985, as Lived by the Faculty, Staff, and Students of Michigan Technological University: Michigan Tech University Press, 267 pages.

Hawley, C.C., 2004, William Sulzer, in, Bundtzen, T.K., editor, Alaska Mining Hall of Fame Inducts Two in Joint Meeting with History Committee of Alaska Bar Association: The Paystreak, Volume 6, No. 2, pages 7-11.

Hayes, Otis. Jr., 1996, The Alaska-Siberia Connection—the World War II Air Route: Texas A&M University Press, 183 pages.

Lawrie-Monro, L.M., 2019, Ray Smith: The Life of a Mining, Metallurgical, and Materials Engineer Dedicated to Education: Oral History program conducted by American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers (AIME), Denver, Colorado.

Metz, P.A., Pearson, R.W., and Lynch, D.F., 1978, Compilation of the data on the Land Withdrawals in Alaska: Mineral Industry Research Laboratory, M.I.R.L. Report No. 40, 17 p., Maps, 2 Sheets.

Metz, P.A., Pearson, R.W., and Lynch, D.F., 1979, Compilation of the data on the Land Withdrawals in Alaska: Mineral Industry Research Laboratory, M.I.R.L. Report No. 40 (Rev), 20 p., Maps, 2 sheet. Mroz, Glenn, 2016, Once a President—Always a President: Michigan Tech Magazine Issue 1, 6 pages.

Noyes, Leslie, M., 2001, Rock Poker and Pay Dirt—The History of Alaska's School of Mines and its Successors: University of Alaska Foundation-Publisher; University of Alaska Press-Distributor, 711 pages.

Obituary of Ray Smith, Green Valley News, Arizona; September 23rd, 2018: https://www.gvnnews.com/obituaries/ray-smith/article_962f7742-bdf1-11e8-9891-a3113325ecc9.html

Poss, John R., 1975, Stones of Destiny—A Story of Man's Quest for Earth's Riches: Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan, 253 pages. Robinson, Lynne, The Story of a Century : Remembering Ray Smith: JOM, Vol. 71,

No.1, 2019, p 6-7.

Smith, R.L., 1983, Atlas Never Shrugged: 1983 Distinguished Lectureship in Materials and Society: Metallurgical Transactions, Volume 14A, pages 2199-2209.

Smith, Ray L., 1997, The Impact of Mining, Minerals, and Metals on Society, in, Engfer, Julie, and Roberts, Michelle, editors, International Symposium on Mining Proceedings Publication—To Explore and Advance Understanding of Fundamental Relationships Between Minerals and Mankind: Festival Fairbanks Inc., Publication, pages 5-47.

Smith, Ray L., 2010, Treasure Trails—Border Town Adventures: Raymond Smith, Publisher.

Smith, Ray L., 2011, Genevieve: Raymond Smith, Publisher.

Smith, Ray L., 2012a, Back and Forth: Raymond Smith, Publisher.

Smith, Ray L., 2012b, Abandoned and Lost Mines in Arizona's South-Central Desert: Raymond Smith, Publisher.

Smith, Ray, and Cox, Ted, 2012c, Looking for Gold and a Telegraph Wire, in, Smith, Ray, editor, Echoes, A Collection of Recollections, Poems, and Stories from my Life: Copyright by Blurb Inc., Arizona, pages 134-141.

Smith, Ray L., 2012d, Doggerel—Poems and other Doggerel: Compiled by Arturo Gabaldon; Copyright by Blurb Inc., Arizona, 28 pages.

Smith, Ray, 2012c, Commencement address, in, Echoes, A Collection of Recollections, Poems, and Stories from my Life: Copyrighted by Blurb Inc., Arizona, pages 73-75.

Sweeney, Erna, editor/transcriber, 2004, The Saga of Ted and Bob—A Journal Compiled by Bob Duncan of a Journey to Alaska in 1939 by Ted (Cox) and Bob and their Life During the Following Year in a Cabin in the Brush while Attending the University of Alaska: Driftwood Press, Publisher, Yachats, Oregon, 95 pages.

Wilcox, Mark, 2018, A lasting legacy to Michigan Tech—Ray Smith Dies at 101: Michigan Tech News, September 25th, 2018, 5 pages.

Letter/Email Correspondences

Rich, Margaret, 2018, Email correspondence to Janie (Smith) @ jrsnaturalhorses@tularosa.net, one page: RE: Ray Smith's Memorial ceremony in February, 2019.

Smith, Ray, 1997, Letter to Ted Cox in Fairbanks from Ray Smith in Green Valley, Arizona, September 20th, 1997; one page (relating trip Ray took with his wife to Alaska that summer).

Smith, Ray, 2015, Letter to Ted Cox in Fairbanks from Ray Smith in Green Valley, Arizona, September 30th, 2015; one page.

Smith, Ray, 2017, Letter to Margaret Cox Rich in Fairbanks from Ray Smith in Green Valley, Arizona, January 1st, 2017; one page.

Smith, Ray, 2017, Letter to Margaret Cox Rich in Fairbanks from Ray Smith in Green Valley, Arizona, April 5th, 2017; one page.

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