Arthur C. Smith, Fine Artist, Photographer and Educator Passes Away at 86
My father, Arthur (Art) C. Smith passed away peacefully in early December, 2011.
For the multitude of our family’s dear friends who are discovering about my dad’s passing for the first time as they read this, I apologize for my delay relaying the news. Our family wanted to make sure the memorial service held earlier this month was a quiet and personal family event. The additional time gave me time to gather my thoughts and emotions, and present this article to you now.
My Step-Mom, Jan called me late one night to tell me dad had a stroke and I immediately flew back to Philadelphia. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to be present for my dad’s return to consciousness for 2-days, eating and giving me a squeeze when I told him I loved him.
Daddy died peacefully in his sleep about 5-days later. Unfortunately, I was not able to return to Philadelphia for the beautiful memorial service on December 17, 2011 that Jan, my sister Lisa, Pam and Peter and Marcella put together for daddy.
However, as the media-mogul daughter that I am, I shot this video, which Peter graciously included in the video that showed throughout the service. So, thank you to all of you for making sure I was “present”…
In the wake of Dad’s passing, I have been reunited with many of my family members who I hadn’t seen or spoken with in many years. The link below goes to my cousin Kamau Smith’s photo album on Facebook containing photos from the memorial service. (I had not spoken with him for more than 15-years!)
The gentlemen in blue jackets are Dad’s fellow Tuskegee Airmen who graciously came to honor Dad in style.
Here is a far too brief overview of Art Smith’s life and accomplishments.
Art Smith attended Overbrook High School http://overbrookalumniassoc.org/ in Philadelphia, PA and was a member of the acclaimed Tuskegee Airmen.
My sister Lisa and I followed in dad’s academic footsteps. Me, with an M.A. in Media Studies and my sister Lisa, with an M.A. in Cross Cultural Education.
Dad taught at Fitz Simons Jr. High School in Philadelphia, where he was chair of the Arts Dept. for many years. In 1968, Art accepted a position at Cheyney University.
He was greatly loved by his students at Cheyney and many of his students became lifelong friends, like Pam Bracey and Michael Bailey.
While there, he became the Director of the Educational Media Program and sponsor of the yearbook and the sponsor of the original models which groomed the students for the Miss Pennsylvania competition during his tenure at Cheyney. Also he became the sponsor of the Cheyney University Video and Television Studios.
In 1988, Art retired from Cheyney after 20 years of dedicated service. At age 9- Art won an art competition, and this motivated his interest in photography and art. He was recognized as one of the most dynamic and creative artists of his time.
After retiring he became a docent at the African American Museum of Philadelphia.
He also donated photography and typography collections to the museum. He was interested in history in general, and in the African American History in particular.
Dad was a member of the 1929 branch of the Association for the Study of African Life and History . He was also the official photographer. photographer of Lewis Redding’s political campaign.
Long before the term, “thinking-out-of-the-box” was coined, Art thought out of the box. His ideas and concepts were always a challenge to his family and friends. Dad was sure to keep us laughing and on out toes one of his provocative jokes!
Art Smith’s intelligent wit always made you think. Art was a familiar figure in the Germantown and Mt. Airy community. He was the coordinator of Mt. Airy day for 2-years. He was often seen riding his bike through the community and knew just about everyone.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations in Arthur C. Smith’s name to:
The Tuskegee Airman Scholarship Foundation
Greater Philadelphia Chapter
Arthur C. Smith leaves behind a multi-generational legacy of fine artists, photographers, writers, and teachers. I could not be more proud to be my Daddy’s daughter.
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Tags: African American Museum of Philadelphia, Art, Arthur C. Smith, Cheyney University, Education, Germantown, Janice Smith, Kara Smith, Karasma Media, Lisa James, Michael Bailey, Mt. Airy, News, Philadelphia, Temple University, Tuskeegee Airmen