|Remembering Donald I. Smith|
Donald I. Smith, former associate dean at the School of Aerospace Sciences, died Sept. 1 at his home in Bemidji, Minn. He was 85.
Smith, the son of Forest and Elizabeth (Schwed) Smith, was born Sept. 7, 1921 in Brooklyn, N.Y. He graduated from Jamaica High School. He formed and led the band "Don Smith, His Piano and His Orchestera." Smith earned industrial mechanical engineer and bachelor of mechanical engineering degrees from Technology Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and completed graduate work at Columbia University and Harvard Business School. He served with the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Theatre in WW II and was awarded a Purple Heart. He married Ann-Marie Bollinger April 29, 1944 in New York.
His aviation career began at the Ranger Engine Division of Fairchild Aviation. Then he joined Lockheed Aircraft Service Corporation as staff engineer, then plant engineer. He designed the world's first suspended cantilever hangar, receiving worldwide recognition and Outstanding Building and Design Award by the New York City Chamber of Commerce. Smith established his own company, AIRSECO dedicated to the design and manufacture of aircraft ground support equipment, designing the first portable cargo elevator. He served as vice president, general manager, and executive vice president and director at Dalto Electronics, the prime contractor to the Lunar Landing Orbital Simulator for training astronauts for navigation in space. He designed and supervised the consstruction of a mobile trailer for the atmospheric research program for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, as well as the first Automated Cargo Retrieval System for Pan American, and won a Design Award from American Airlines for his concept of an easily assembled portable Passenger Terminal.
Smith served as a consultant to airlines and airports throughout the United States and abroad. Due to his vast connections worldwide, he invited Buzz Aldren to Grand Forks to establish the master's degree curriculum in aerospace studies.
Taking early retirement from industry, he devoted his time to teaching at the School of Aerospace Sciences at UND. He served as engineering consultant, associate professor, chair, associate dean, and executive director of the UND Aerospace Foundation. He drafted and negotiated a proposal for bringing China Airlines of Taiwan to Grand forks.
While at UND, he organized the first four-year degree curriculum in business with a major in airport administration. He was the recipient of the Edgar Dale Faculty Teaching Award for outstanding teaching and loyal service to UND. He was the principal author of the first textbook on airport planning and management presently being used by airport managers and directors in both the United States and Canada. He established the first internship program for students' summer employment at many airports across the country. He established a program with George W. Elliott to bring Canadian students to UND. Because he significantly contributed to the development of the School of Aerospace Sciences at the UND, in 2002 he was honored by a $1 million endowment fund within the UND Foundation in his name by James C. Ray.
In 1993, Smith was nominated for the North Dakota Innovator of the Year Award for founding Technology Applications Group Inc (TAG), a company that pioneered a successful process to coat magnesium.
He was a past commander in the Power Squadron, a volunteer organization which promotes boating safety. He was an avid classic car collector, a Mason, and while in Grand Forks, he belonged to the Rotary Club. His musical talent was featured in Dick King's Swing Band in Grand Forks for many years. He and Ann-Marie moved to Bemidji in 2005.
He is survived by his wife Ann-Marie Smith of Bemidji, two daughters: Cheryl (Ed) Rogers of Cumming, Ga.; Rev. Dr. DeeAnn (John) Klapp of Correctionville, Iowa; six grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren.
He was precedeed in death by his parents and a brother, David.
-- Jan Orvik, Writer/Editor, University Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org, 777-3621