03 Feb 2014

Leonard Mason Smith’s Obituary

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Greenwich Time:

Leonard Mason Smith, 86, a veteran of World War II and Korea and longtime resident of Pine Island, passed away Nov. 27, 2013.

He was a very private man. If you wanted to know his cause of death, he would have told you that it was none of your business. If you asked Penny, his beloved wife, she would tell you that he had cancer, but not to tell anyone. Although his prognosis was dire, he battled on, lived his life and survived several years beyond the experts’ expectations. He did not want his obituary to suggest that he lost a long battle with cancer. By his reckoning, cancer could not win, and could only hope for a draw. And so it was. He hated losing.

He was born to Leonard Henry Smith and Charlotte deCamp July 20, 1927, in New York City. As a young man he resided in New Rochelle, N.Y., where he attended the Iona School. He graduated from the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, and then matriculated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was president of the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity and earned an engineering degree. He joined the Army Air Corps after his first term at M.I.T., and attained the rank of colonel, but only on the telephone when facilitating personnel discharges and equipment requisitions. He was discharged as a private. After his graduation from M.I.T., he enlisted in the Air Force during the Korean War, and served in Japan and the Philippines. After the war, he began a career as a management executive. He worked for Bamberg Rayon Company, American Enka, Union Carbide, General Dynamics, Cognitronics and Computer Transceiver Systems Incorporated. By virtue of his education, training and temperament, his assignments tended to be companies and divisions that were experiencing financial or operational deficiencies. He liked the challenge.

He was married to Penelope Self Dec. 4, 1953, in Asheville, N.C. They were married for 58 years until her death in 2012. They raised five children together, living in New Rochelle and Greenwich, Conn. He enjoyed sailing and served as commodore of the Shenorock Shore Club in Rye, N.Y. They also raised show and field Gordon Setters, of which he was very proud. After retirement, they resided in Asheville and Pine Island, where they were active with local church groups and charities. …

He hated pointless bureaucracy, thoughtless inefficiency and bad ideas born of good intentions. He loved his wife, admired and respected his children and liked just about every dog he ever met. He will be greatly missed by those he loved and those who loved him.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you cancel your subscription to The New York Times.

He would have thought that this obituary was about three paragraphs too long.

Hat tip to Rod Dreher and Jim Harberson.

4 Feedbacks on "Leonard Mason Smith’s Obituary"

T. Shaw

My father (RIP) was born June 1, 1927, 23 years older than me. He was the last of my family’s WWII men.

“In lieu of flowers . . . ”

My kind of guy.


That’s great: “In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you cancel your subscription to The New York Times.” I’m going to steal that for my own obit.


Yes, the cancel your subscription line was beautiful.

More indicative of his personality, I suspect, was that he ‘attained the rank of colonel, but only on the telephone when facilitating personnel discharges and equipment requisitions’ line.


An awesome obit, even if the deceased and I did not attend the same high school. A true Lawrentian!


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