ASHEVILLE - Robert William Smith, 84, of Givens Estates, formerly of Bethesda, MD and Hendersonville, NC, passed away on July 1st, 2011. Bob was born on December 27, 1926 in Richland, Iowa to the late William and Gertrude Smith. In addition his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother, Leo Smith, and sisters, Lettie Kinslow, Katherine Moore, and Margaret Folck.
Bob was in a state orphanage from age 3 to 13 years old. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps at age 17, served in the Pacific and got his first taste of Judo. He eventually won his third degree Black Belt in Tokyo many years later.
Bob was graduated with Highest Honors from the University of Illinois. He enrolled in the Russian and Far Eastern program at the University of Washington in Seattle and received his MA while working the swing shift at Boeing Aircraft. He worked toward his Doctorate but quit before writing his thesis saying he was tired. He never stopped learning. He loved to read, research and write. His motto in life was "Wisdom leavened with love."
In 1955, Bob joined the CIA's writing team as an Intelligence Analyst. He added Chinese to his Russian and Japanese skills and in 1959 was sent to Taiwan to be an advisor to the Admiral of the Taiwan Defense Command. While there he had time to study a variety of Asian martial arts. He became the first Western T'ai Chi Ch'uan student of the late reknown grandmaster Cheng Man-Ch'ing. After three years in Taiwan he returned to Bethesda, MD and for 27 years held a free Saturday morning T'ai Chi practice in the Bethesda YMCA parking lot. He also offered formal instruction for many decades in T'ai Chi, Pa-kua, and Hsing-i, the three main elements of Chinese internal martial arts.
As an early pioneer of Asian martial arts in the West, Bob provided a positive foundation of historical accuracy while emphasizing the traditional and ethical influences of the often misunderstood and misrepresented martial arts. As a result of so many years of teaching Asian martial arts, Mr. Smith, as he was known, has an extended family of many hundreds of devoted students, grandstudents and great-grandstudents.
As an editor, author, co-author and co-translator, Bob produced 14 books, dozens of magazine articles, and wrote over 240 book reviews on a wide variety of topics for top newspapers across America. He also wrote numerous interviews with authors who caught his interest and countless letters to the editor.
Surviving are his wife of 60 years, Alice Langellier Smith; daughters, Sue Broadhurst and her husband, Don, of Taylors, SC; Anne McKay and her husband, Ben, of Flat Rock, NC; Chris Cutting and her husband, Paul, of Waynesville, NC and son, Dave and his wife, Marolyn, of Columbia, SC; along with nine grandchildren: Jace, Timothy and Kate Broadhurst; Amy Dill, Joshua and Ian McKay, and Heather Mallory; Megan and Joey Cutting; and three great grandsons; Kadin, Rhyston and Davin Broadhurst.
Bob loved everyone; especially his family, children, animals, birds, nature, jokes, stories, poetry and English literature.
Per his wishes, Bob's body has been donated to the Wake Forest School of Medicine. There will be a Celebration of Life on Saturday, July 9, 2011 at 3:00 pm in the Chapel of Givens Estates, 2360 Sweeten Creek Road, Asheville, NC 28803.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to any of the following: Resident Assistance Fund at Givens Estates, 2360 Sweeten Creek Road, Asheville, NC 28803; Care Partners Foundation, John F. Keever, Jr. Solace Center, PO Box 25338, Asheville, NC 28813; or an animal rescue group in your area.
Published by Asheville Citizen-Times on Jul. 5, 2011.