SEE THE DIFFERENCE
It was a time of unrest for the nation, yet the Smith family found tranquility in a special place named Ypsilanti, Mich. Dr. Roger F. Smith has many fond memories of the small, friendly town he grew up in during the 1920s and 30s. Ypsilanti was also home to Michigan State Normal College (MSNC), now known as Eastern Michigan University, and the place his father, Dr. Harry L. Smith, worked for 41 years as a professor of physics and astronomy.
Roots run deep with the Smiths, Ypsilanti and its university. Not only did Harry graduate from MSNC in 1915, but it is where he met his wife, Eunice Niblick, while she pursued a degree in botany.
"My father was a great man in so many ways. He was dedicated to his family, to his community, to his students and to his work as a physicist. I have always respected him and the legacy he left behind. He inspired me with his many contributions to society and through the passion he had for teaching," Roger says.
Harry's students felt much the same way about him. Two of them began an endowed scholarship in his name on Sept. 1, 1966—the 50th anniversary of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Eastern—to support physics students who aspire to careers in academia. "It is important that this scholarship always be available for EMU students. It also ensures my father's legacy will always live on," Roger says. "My wife, Margaret, and I have set up a charitable gift annuity to ensure it continues in perpetuity."
Following in his father's footsteps, Roger spent his first two years of college at MSNCEMU before going on to become a doctor. After his surgical residency, he served as a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force before going on to a distinguished surgical career at Henry Ford Hospital. Today, Roger and Margaret are retired and living in Tennessee.
Many wonderful memories were created in a little bungalow on West Cross Street where the Smiths lived, and today it has been fittingly deemed a historic structure.