Smith, Thomas Eugene
CABOT, Ark. - Thomas Eugene Smith, born in Madison, Wis., passed away on July 7, 2021, at his home surrounded by his family in Cabot, Ark. He was born on Aug. 23, 1931; his father was Thomas Edward Smith of Brodhead, Wis., and his mother was LuNeil (Lloyd) Sanders of Madison, Wis. He married his high school sweetheart, Charlotte Mae Dugan, on Jan. 29, 1955. He earned his master's degree in psychology in 1959, a master's degree in philosophy in 1960, and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 1965.
He served with the U.S. Marine Corps from 1951-1954, including over a year in the Korean War.
His professional career included teaching at Central Michigan University, working with special education students and their families in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago, and guiding "personal growth journeys to the wilderness" for over 20 years.
He was an advocate of "Wilderness Therapy" and defined himself as a "Psychologist/Wilderness Guide."
He published his first book, "Wilderness Beyond... Wilderness Within' in 1980. He authored many other books, including "The Theory and Practice of Challenge Education" (1992), "Incidents in Challenge Education: A Guide for Leadership Development" (1994), "The Challenge of Native American Traditions" (1998), "The Book on Raccoon Circles" (2002), "Exploring the Powers of Solo, Silence, and Solitude" (2005), "Outdoor Experiential Leadership" (2006), "The Backpacker's Thinking Book" (2008), "Sourcebook of Experiential Education: Key Thinkers and Their Contributions" (2011), and "Peace Circles: Stories About Peacebuilders" (2013).
Throughout his career, Dr. Smith, who was also known as "The Old Raccoon,"" presented personal and professional development workshops at many regional, national, and international conferences. After he developed the experience and practice of "Raccoon Circles," he facilitated leadership training seminars in Japan, Hong Kong, China, Canada, South Africa, Ireland and Scotland.
In spite of his professional successes, he was quick to say that his most cherished achievements were his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was also very proud of the self-building of an earth-bermed, solar heated home near Cazenovia, Wis., where he and Charlotte lived for over 20 years.
He leaves behind his five children, Judd (Deb) Smith of Cabot, Ark., Brian (Nancy) Smith of Huntley, Ill., Mike Smith (Anna) of Metairie, La., Kathryn Smith of Middleton, Wis., and Jennifer (Nick) Ricci of Verona, Wis.; his grandchildren, Mandy (James) Knaack, Dylan (Tanya) Smith, Lori (Luis) Rameriz, Jeanette Smith, Cassie (Scott) Flynn, Richard (Amanda), Christina Flynn, Nicole Ricci, Lexi Ricci, and Jessica Ricci; and his great-grandchildren, Christian Smith, Caiden Smith, Mackenzie Knaack, Ethan Knaack, Gavin Abott, Scarlett Abbott, and Giavonni Rameriz. He was preceded in death by his wife, Charlotte Mae Smith (2008); his daughter, Marcella Ann Flynn (2003); and his sister, Mary Wohlust (2013).
A celebration of life for Thomas Smith (The Old Raccoon) will be held on Oct. 3, at CAMP SUNRISE, 7N749 Rte. 59, Bartlett, IL 60103, from 1 p.m.-4 p.m.