Dr. Michael Howard Smith

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Dr. Michael Howard Smith
AIKEN - It is with deep sadness that we
announce the peaceful passing of Dr. Michael Howard Smith on
November 15, 2017 at the age of 79.
Mike is survived by Irma, his loving wife of 59 years, his sisters Cheryll Leslie and Andrea Johnston, his brother Don Roe Jr, his son Michael (Sharon Edelstein), his daughter Karen Smith Rotabi (Paul Martin), and his grandsons Alexander, Benjamin and Ethan.
Mike was born in Long Beach, California on
August 30, 1938 to Frances and William M. Smith. He attended Saint Augustine High School in San Diego, California. He met Irma, the love of his life, while in high school, and they were married a year after graduation. After Mike graduated from San Diego State University, Irma, Mike and their young son Michael moved to Gainesville, Florida, where Mike earned his PhD in Zoology (1966). They soon moved to Aiken, South Carolina where Mike worked and then became director of the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory and was a professor of Ecology at the University of Georgia until he
retired in 2002. Their precious daughter Karen was born while in Aiken in 1968. Mike loved traveling throughout the world, which he did extensively both for work and pleasure, often with Irma, as well as his children, grandsons, and extended family. Mike truly loved his travel in Central America, first visiting their daughter while in Peace Corps. Mike and Irma traveled there to study Spanish on many occasions after his retirement. To celebrate Mike and Irma's 50th anniversary and their 70th birthdays, the extended family traveled together to Guatemala to study Spanish and explore the beautiful countryside.
Big Mike, as he was belovedly known, was recognized internationally as an expert on population genetics, radioactivity in the environment, and ecology. He was known throughout the world for his knowledge of the effects of radiation on the ecosystem, and was an advisor during the Chernobyl nuclear reactor failure. During his quarter century as the director of the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, he and his outstanding team of scholars guided the effort into a premier research institute. He was an author of over 350 scientific publications, and mentored dozens of PhD and Master's students who value his guidance and commitment. Dr. Michael H. Smith is a fellow of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, yet he was proudest of his Hart Merriam "Buffalo" Award for outstanding research contributions from the American Society of Mammalogy, in which he was a lifetime member.
A celebration of Mike's life will take place on Sunday November 19 at 11am at Keeney and Basford Funeral Home, 106 East Church St, Frederick MD. Following the service, family and friends and invited for refreshments and reminiscing at his son's house.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Mike's Memory to the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory by donating online at srel.uga.edu or at SREL, PO Box Drawer E, Aiken SC, 29802. Funds raised will be used to support students through a Michael H. Smith scholarship fund.
Funeral Home
106 East Church Street
Frederick, MD 21701
(301) 662-2175
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Published in The Aiken Standard and North Augusta Star on Nov. 17, 2017
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