Bruce Raymond Smith, the second editor-in-chief of The Daily Free Press, died in his home Wednesday from pancreatic cancer. He was 62, said Melanie Smith, his wife.
Melanie described her husband as a voracious reader, someone who liked to bring people together by cooking for them and a proud liberal.
“He was calm, tolerant and patient and knew how to have fun and teach all the time and make you feel good about yourself and grow,” she said. “He was a big supporter of pushing us to be what we wanted to be.”
Andrew Smith, Smith’s son, who graduated from BU in 2013, said his father taught him how to be more patient when they played golf together.
“Before, I was kind of temperamental and impetuous, but I learned patience from my dad on the golf course,” he said. “He taught me how to be thoughtful about things and to really consider everything that was going on before you act, before you make any kind of decision like that.”
Smith was born on Oct. 28, 1952 in Providence, Rhode Island. He graduated from Cumberland High School in 1970 and graduated cum laude from BU in 1974 with a degree in journalism from the School of Public Communication, now the College of Communication.
Smith began his journalism career writing for the FreeP, Melanie said. He joined the staff as a freshman in 1970, when anti-Vietnam War sentiments were present and the newspaper had just launched. He went on to serve as the newspaper’s second in editor-in-chief from 1973 to the spring of 1974.
“He was straightforward [and] the realest guy to work with,” said Bill Holtzman, a classmate who served as managing editor with Smith and succeeded him as editor-in-chief. “[As an editor] Bruce was very low key and was not loud or aggressive. He had a calm demeanor and was incredibly patient … [He was] part teacher, guide and psychologist and was great with writers.”
Smith devoted much of his time to the FreeP and worked to change production by incorporating new technology, Holtzman said.
Following graduation, Smith wrote for The Woonsocket Call in Rhode Island in 1974, where he covered local government meetings and eventually became an editor before his departure in 1978. He was later a self-employed writer in Stratford, Connecticut.
After receiving his teaching certification from the University of Texas at Dallas in 1984, Smith taught high school English, social studies, government and journalism at Justin F. Kimball and Thomas Jefferson high schools in Dallas and the Larry D. Guinn Special Programs Center in Plano, Texas. He also took on various leadership roles and coached golf and football. Smith continued to teach until his retirement in 2012.
“Bruce was especially proud of the role he and his team played at Plano’s Special Programs Center,” Melanie said. “Under his leadership and years of service, his program assisted more than 3,000 at-risk students in obtaining their high school diplomas.”
In addition to his wife, Melanie, and son, Andrew, Smith leaves his brother, Brian of Cumberland, Rhode Island and mother Sylvia, of Lincoln, Rhode Island.
His family will celebrate his life at their home in Dallas on Feb. 22. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to the FreeP through the “In Memory of Bruce Smith” button on its homepage.