PROFESSOR LACEY BALDWIN SMITH - GREENSBORO - Professor Lacey Baldwin Smith died peacefully in his home on Sept. 8, 2013, at almost 91 years old. Professor Emeritus at Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., a Guggenheim fellow, twice a Fulbright recipient, and twice recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities award, he was considered one of the "big name" historians. Yet, his writing was as entertaining as it was erudite. From scholarly tomes to "English History Made Brief, Irreverent, and Pleasurable," Lacey was a consummate author, and after 60 years of writing, the majority of his books remain in print. The biography, "Henry VIII: The Mask of Royalty," is one of the most referenced books concerning that famous and willful king. While a historian of the distant past, in his own life, Lacey was not a man to look backwards or rest on the laurels of his youth, and so, at the age of 89, the professor penned "Anne Boleyn: The Queen of Controversy" (published 2013). Then, 70 years after having attempted a novel during W.W.II in a military tent in India, he again turned his hand to what he considered the hardest form. He completed his first work of historical fiction and sent it to the publishers days before his health began failing. Although Lacey's writings often focused on the cut-throat and treacherous world of Tudor and Stuart monarchs, Lacey himself was a gentle and gracious man. While he loved to talk history, he was equally happy to read mystery stories, play poker, or watch his three-year-old grandson run circles around him. Having retired to Greensboro, the small village where he spent every summer of his life, he was a champion of the Greensboro Library, the Greensboro Historical Society, and the Greensboro Land Trust. In the wider community, he served on the board of the American Historical Association, the American Historical Review, the Conference on British Studies, and as editor of the Journal of Modern History. As devoted a teacher as he was a writer, he rarely forgot a student's name. One of his last actions before his death was to write to a former undergraduate, whom he hadn't seen in decades, but who had contacted him regarding his most recent book. The devotion he showed his students was only rivaled by that he showed his wife and children. He was preceded in death by his wife of 43 years, Jean Reeder Smith; and is survived by his son, MacAllister Smith; daughters, Dennison Smith, and Katherine Chandler Smith-Brannon; grandsons, Chandler Smith and Steven Brannon; and granddaughter, Oceana Masterman-Smith. A funeral and memorial will be held in Greensboro next July when Lacey's many friends and relatives return to the lake for the summer. The family requests that, in lieu of cards or flowers, donations be made in Lacey's name to the Greensboro Land Trust: www.greensborolandtrust.org.
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Published in The Burlington Free Press on Sept. 15, 2013