I am writing to share the news that LeRoy Smith, Professor Emeritus of English, died May 2, 2017, at the age of 90. Professor Smith received his B.A. from American University in 1947, his M.A. from George Washington University in 1949, and his Ph.D. from Duke University in 1956. After teaching at Gettysburg College between 1951 and 1954, Professor Smith joined the William & Mary faculty in 1956 as an assistant professor in the Department of English. During his career at the College, he rose to the rank of Professor, and also chaired the Department of English from 1976 to 1979.
During his time at the College, Professor Smith taught a range of courses at all levels of the curriculum, including graduate courses on the English novel and on women in fiction. He was a fierce advocate for the teaching of writing. As director of the freshman writing program, he was instrumental in establishing Writing 101, required of all freshmen, as an intensive tutorial course, involving regular one-on-one meetings between professors and students. He was also dedicated to ensuring the quality of the College’s new student recruits: for many years he graded Advanced Placement exams on behalf of the College Board. He had an active research career, publishing Jane Austen and the Drama of Woman (1983), and several articles on Jane Austen, Daniel Defoe, Charlotte Brontë, and Henry Fielding. Professor Smith was intensely committed to shared decision-making and faculty, and served on numerous departmental and College committees, including Retention, Promotion and Tenure and the Curriculum Committee. He won the first annual Student Association Faculty Award for contribution to faculty-student relationships in 1965. Between 1970 and 1975, Professor Smith was a member of the City of Williamsburg School Board, serving as its chair from 1972 to 1974.
Professor Smith retired in 1988 after 32 years at the College, and devoted himself to travel, music, art and love of family. He and his wife Phyllis were champion duplicate bridge players, and both attained Life Master status in the American Contract Bridge League.
LeRoy was preceded in death by his parents, Roy and Mary Elizabeth Forbes Smith, his brother Thomas Forbes Smith, and his wife Phyllis Foster Smith. He is survived by a son, Dana N. Smith and his wife Audrey of Williamsburg; a daughter, Martha S. Newman of Williamsburg; and five grandchildren, Trent, Lucy, and Ramsay Smith and David and Kyle Newman.
A graveside service will be held at Cedar Grove Cemetery in Williamsburg on Wednesday, May 31 at 3:00 pm with a reception to follow at the Wren Great Hall. Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice House & Support Care of Williamsburg.