Ronald E. Smith, M.D., passed away on March 17, 2014, in Los Angeles, California. He was 71. He died with his beloved family by his side at the Norris Cancer Center after a valiant fight against cancer. He was the son of Harry O. and Marjorie Smith and a native of Walkersville. Dr. Smith graduated from Walkersville High School, Class of 1960, and attended Washington College. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University undergraduate and medical school. |
Dr. Smith had an illustrious career as an academic ophthalmologist. He was, for almost 40 years, a full time member of the faculty at the Doheny Eye Institute and the Department of Ophthalmology at the Keck-USC School of Medicine. He recently served as Medical Director of the Doheny Eye Institute until his untimely death. He looked forward to transitioning to the role of Professor and Vice Chair at Doheny in its new affiliation with UCLA. He devoted his life to pursuing the Doheny Eye Institute's vision, "to further the conservation, improvement and restoration of human eyesight."
As a young man, Dr. Smith was an outstanding athlete, lettering in soccer, baseball and basketball at Walkersville High. He played for the Frederick Legion team and was a key player on the 1960 Walkersville basketball team that won the Class C Maryland Championship. He received an athletic scholarship to Washington College, Chestertown, Maryland. He loved to play golf and tennis.
Dr. Smith graduated from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1967. After completing his ophthalmology residency at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins, he completed a fellowship in Uveitis, Cornea and External Eye Disease at the Proctor Foundation at University of California, San Francisco. He returned to Wilmer as Chief Resident, followed by two years in the U.S. Public Health Service as an ophthalmologist for the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage, Alaska.
After launching his career in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Smith arrived in Los Angeles in 1975 to join his friend and classmate Dr. Steve Ryan. Dr. Smith has been at the heart of Doheny for 38 years as a co-founder, along with Dr. Ryan, for the Department of Ophthalmology and as Department Chair of the USC Department of Ophthalmology. Dr. Smith became a recognized leader in academic ophthalmology. He was the department's second full-time faculty and the second full-time Chairman from 1995 to 2013. Dr. Smith dedicated his career to the USC Department of Ophthalmology and the Keck School of Medicine and, working with Dr. Ryan, took great pride in helping to raise USC's stature in both the clinical and academic research arenas.
Dr. Smith was a warmhearted man who truly loved people. His humility truly belied his international reputation. He greatly enjoyed training and developing physicians at the early stages of their careers. He was particularly proud that over 26 alumni of the Ophthalmology International Fellowship Program had assumed Chair positions outside the U.S. In the U.S., 10 graduates of the USC Ophthalmology residency, fellowship or faculty currently hold Chair positions. He valued tremendously his many professional relationships and close friendships he developed with these individuals.
Dr. Smith held, at one time or another, many of the most influential positions in ophthalmology. He was a Past President of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and served for more than ten years on the Academy Board of Trustees. He was past Chair and Board member of the American Board of Ophthalmology. He was past vice-chairman for the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. He was also a member of honorary societies, including the American Ophthalmological Society, Academia Ophthalmologica Internationalis and the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Braille Institute of American (Los Angeles) which awarded him the "Light Award." He was awarded the Gold Medal of the International Uveitis Study Group, the Castroviejo Medal of the Cornea Society, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, to name a few.
Dr. Smith is survived by his wife, Suzette, Dr. Sara Watt Smith, his ex-wife and their children, daughter Kelly Parker, son-in-law John, grandsons Cole and Austin; son, Dr. Matthew Smith, daughter-in-law Tirza, granddaughters Sophia, and Catalina; his brother, Dick Smith, sister-in-law Ann and nephews, Michael and Mark. He was predeceased by his parents Harry O. and Marjorie Smith of Walkersville, Maryland.
In lieu of flowers the Smith family requests your contribution to the Ronald E. Smith Memorial Fund, Doheny Eye Institute, 1450 San Pablo Street, Los Angeles, CA 90033. www.doheny.org
Published Online in The Frederick News-Post on Mar. 22, 2014
Published in Print in The Frederick News-Post on Mar. 22, 2014