L. Dennis Smith
1938 - 2021
Hartzler-Clapper Funeral Home
101 W 4th St
Brookston, IN
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.
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Calling hours
5:00p.m. - 7:00p.m.
Hartzler-Clapper Funeral Home
101 W 4th St P.O. Box 509, Brookston, IN
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Hartzler-Clapper Funeral Home
101 W 4th St P.O. Box 509, Brookston, IN
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6 Entries
We will cherish our memories of fun times together. Interesting conversations, fishing, fun boat rides and good food.
Debbie & Larry Graham
April 3, 2021
Dear Suzie and family,
I was so sad to learn of Denny's passing. Many happy times at VCC come into my memories. He was a scholar, but more importantly, he was a gentleman. Thinking of you at this difficult time; may the happy times sustain you.
Christine E. Martin
April 2, 2021
I have been best friends with Brad Smith since my first memories. Lived in the same neighborhood growing up and went to Purdue in the mid-19080s. Around 1985 as I was working at a local restaurant in West Lafayette, when I was asked to go to a table in the bar by one of the staff because "the most important people in your life other than your parents" required your assistance. I knew, when I rounded the corner Mr. and Mrs. Smith were there having a great night out. I had the opportunity to have a great conversation with Mr. Smith a few years ago, and as an adult finally got to really know an exceptional man. See you later, Mr. Smith, try to behave when you see Dad...
Gregg Cole
April 1, 2021
Fond memories of working with Dennis at Vanderbilt Presbyterian Church and Misión Peniel in Immokalee, FL -- and the laughs and fun times we had while doing it! Will miss his leadership and support. My prayers and condolences are with Suzanne and his family.
Pete Rodino
April 1, 2021
I am deeply saddened by the loss of my close high school friend Denny Smith. My condolences and sympathy to his family.
Frank Starr
March 31, 2021
The Ledbetters
March 31, 2021
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