L. Dennis Smith
Monticello - L. Dennis Smith, 83, of Monticello, passed away, with his family by his side, at 4:47 p.m. Monday, March 29, 2021 at IU Arnett Hospital of Lafayette, Indiana.
Dennis was born January 18, 1938 in Muncie, Indiana to the late Thurman L. and Dorothy A. (Dennis) Smith. He was a 1956 graduate of Frankfort High School where he was an accomplished member of the band. Dennis received a scholarship to Indiana University for his skill at playing the Trombone and was a part of the IU Marching 100. Dennis was an aspiring jazz musician, majoring in music for his first year. He was then advised to leave the music track and shift to music education. Instead, he began studying science. Dr. Smith earned a B.A. in Zoology and Chemistry and a Ph.D. in Experimental Embryology.
His marriage of 59 years was to Suzanne F. Metcalfe on June 10, 1961 at First Presbyterian Church of South Bend; she survives.
Dr. Smith retired in June of 2004 after 10 years as President of Nebraska University. Prior to that he was the Dean of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of California Irvine, where he later became Executive Vice Chancellor and Acting Chancellor of the University. Dr. Smith also spent 18 years at Purdue University as professor and Head of the Department of Biological Sciences. He held a variety of roles in the field of science including, Emeritus Professor in the UNL School of Biological Sciences, Embryology Instructor at Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, and Staff Scientist at the Argonne National Laboratory.
Dr. Smith published almost 100 research papers and numerous abstracts in areas such as cell biology, developmental biology, biochemistry and molecular biology.
In 2002, Dr. Smith received the Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility for distinguished contributions to developmental biology and leadership and advocacy on education. He was also recognized by the AAAS for his work in science and education and in defense of academic freedom while President at Nebraska University. He was also named a Fellow on Biological Sciences. It was his work on cell division in frogs which helped put in place the foundation used by three researchers who ultimately won a Nobel Prize in medicine. Dr. Smith also did research for NASA on the effects of zero gravity on the human body when returning to earth.
Dennis modeled his Christian faith through his service to his churches. When the family moved to California for him to take the position with UCI, Dennis was instrumental in helping raise the funds to build the new Laguna Niguel Presbyterian Church with his good friend and Pastor, Ken McCullen.
Dr. Smith and his wife are currently members of Vanderbilt Presbyterian Church of Naples, Florida where he volunteered on numerous committees, was a church Elder, and was a member of the church choir.
Dennis was an avid golfer and enjoyed music of all kinds. He loved science and research and had a love/hate relationship with the Chicago Cubs. Additionally, Dr. Smith enjoyed memberships with the Masonic Lodge and Shriner's of Lincoln Nebraska and the Elks Lodge in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Surviving with his wife Suzanne are two children, Lauren K. Payne (husband: Steve) of Jacksonville, NC and R. Bradley Smith (wife: Janet) of Hilliard, OH and 4 siblings, Brenda Gaskins of Westfield, IN, Geoffrey Smith (wife: Jeanne) of Frankfort, IN, Leslie Mohlke (husband: Robb) of Virginia and Jennie Otterman (husband: Chris) of Noblesville, IN. Dennis loved spending time with his family, especially his grandchildren, Tommy, Sarah, Joshua and Rebekah. Also surviving are many nieces and nephews.
Friends may call from 5-7 p.m. (EST) Thursday, April 1, 2021 at Hartzler-Clapper Funeral Home of Brookston (101 West 4th Street). Funeral service 10:30 a.m. (EST) Friday, April 2, 2021 also at the funeral home; Rev. Dr. Lelan D. McReynolds to officiate. Entombment to follow in Tippecanoe Memory Gardens Cemetery, West Lafayette.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to the Shriners Hospitals for Children
or St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Share memories and condolences online at www.clapperfuneralservices.com
Published by Journal & Courier from Mar. 30 to Mar. 31, 2021.