Philip Marshall Smart|
September 21, 1919 ~ February 8, 2013
Phil Smart Sr., family man, car dealer, philanthropist and civic leader, had business in his blood, but people in his heart.
This beloved Seattle native grew up in Wallingford, and attended Latona Grade School, John Marshall Middle School and graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1937.
He attended the University of Washington for two years before joining the U.S. Army in 1941 where he served for five years, starting as a Private, and ending that time of service, which included tours of duty in Italy and North Africa under General George Patton, with the rank of Major. During that time he was awarded the Soldier's Medal for heroism for his part in saving a British airman from a burning aircraft.
Following this Army tour, Phil joined the U.S. Air Force Reserve and served for 26 years before retiring with the rank of Colonel.
Three days before his deployment in 1941, where he would start Basic Training in Montana, he married the love of his life, Helen Viola Williams, whom he reverently called "Precious" for the rest of his life. They honeymooned on a budget of $5 at the Roosevelt Hotel in Seattle, and returned by bus to their Edmonds apartment with five cents left to spare.
Phil was always an entrepreneur and a good provider, starting at the age of seven years old, when he sold the Saturday Evening Post to his neighbors for a nickel.
When he returned from World War II in 1945, he worked at a variety of jobs, before starting his automotive career at Hopper Chevrolet in 1952. From there, he joined Davies Chevrolet in Seattle, selling cars and then moving into a more executive role, marketing for Corvette, Fiat, and Mercedes-Benz with Tad Davies.
In 1965 Tad sold his shares to Phil and three other members of his management team. That was the start of the widely respected Phil Smart Mercedes-Benz business, and a longstanding relationship with Mercedes-Benz that included Phil's being elected National Dealer Council Chairman three times.
Phil Smart Mercedes-Benz became known for delivering unparalleled customer service, which resulted in its rapid growth. In 1971 he was awarded the BMW franchise as well, which was later sold in 1987.
In 1980 he sold the business to his namesake son, who had joined him in 1967, but Phil remained an active part of the team as its founder. When the business he had built from the ground up was sold in 2011, he remained as its ambassador, working closely with the purchaser Al Monjazeb, and going into work three days a week right up until the end.
Phil's civic interests were legendary and he devoted a third of his life to service. He often spoke about his "Third Eight" concept, as a way to apportion the day: eight hours for work, eight hours for sleep, and eight hours for helping people. Phil encouraged giving back, one-to-one, in any of eight areas of pain which he identified as The Hurt, The Homeless, The Hungry, The Drugged, The Old, The Young, The Unemployed, and The Illiterate. He presented this uplifting concept to more than 749 different groups, reaching 85,000 people.
He practiced what he preached. Boy Scouts of America, Rotary, Rotary Boys and Girls Club, and Children's Hospital, which he referred to as the "miracle house," were close to his heart.
His 80 year deep involvement with Scouting began when he was a Cub Scout in the 1920's. He earned the rank of Eagle in 1935. And Scouting honored him with many awards, including the Silver Beaver Award for volunteering and a Distinguished Eagle Award as well.
He was Scoutmaster in Edmonds for 14 years, proudly pinning the rank of Eagle on 32 Scouts, including his own son. He traveled cross country, leading a special regional troop to the National Boy Scout Jamboree in Valley Forge, PA, in 1957.
His 52 year relationship with Seattle Children's Hospital began in 1961 as one of first male volunteers. He played Santa Claus for 26 of those years, and always spoke of how much he learned from the child patients he called "his teachers." As a result of those experiences, he wrote two books, "Angels Among Us", and "Angels Among Us By The Real Santa Claus"..
He was a member of Rotary Club of Seattle for 50 years and took to heart the principal of "service above self". He served as its President in 1989.
He is survived by Helen, his loving wife of 71 years; two children, Phil (Sally); Dianne (Jim); five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister Doris Lee Dimick and family.
A Memorial Celebration will be held at McCAW HALL in Seattle beginning at 1:00 p.m. with reception to follow on March 2, 2013. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Children's Hospital, Boy Scouts of America Chief Seattle Council, or the Rotary Boys and Girls Club.
Please sign the guest book
Published in The Seattle Times from Feb. 16 to Feb. 24, 2013