Denny Smithson
Denny Smithson

December 20, 1942 - November 1, 2014

Denny was a talk show host and reporter at KPFA radio for 47 years and a long-time employee of Cody's Books in Berkeley, CA. A radio natural, he had a great voice, and he sounded on air just like he was in person – warm, open and empathetic, insightful and witty. He interviewed authors for many years and enjoyed every moment. He was entranced with the words, but even more in talking with writers about their work.
He loved his dogs with his whole heart, and they adored him as well. Jezebel, the fluff pup, Otter aka Mr. Buttupsky, and the beautiful crazy Tillie, all three would have been inconsolable if he had gone on without them.
He leaves his wife and 30-year companion Lara Wagner, who has lost at least half her heart, Gabriel Smithson, his son with the late public television and radio reporter Carolyn Craven, his brother Harry and sister-in-law Susie Smithson of Columbia, South Carolina, and other beloved family in South Carolina and Mississippi.
His remains will be scattered along the Nimitz Way Trail in Tilden Park, where he walked with his dogs for many years, and made friends with two ravens, Cash and Carrie. An "open-mike" memorial gathering will be held on December 13 from 1:00 - 3:00 at the Temescal Beach House, for all who wish to come and share stories about their moments with Denny.
To the excellent Kaiser Oakland hospice staff, in particular Patty and Claire, and to Denny's steady caregivers, especially Mel and Richard, thank you with all our hearts.

Published by San Francisco Chronicle from Nov. 4 to Nov. 9, 2014.
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19 Entries
Good to think about Denny again. Lots of memories, and that picture brings them back.
Patrice Suncircle
October 29, 2019
April 1, 2017
I knew Dennyfrom liberty union high school. He was a kind friend to the outcasts among us and I loved him dearly.
Maggie Luntz Zubrin
February 2, 2017
I knew Denny from his years at liberty union high school. He was a kind friend to the outcasts among us.
February 2, 2017
Bless you and your journey. Thank you for all your years of service.
Eileen Duhne
January 23, 2015
Listened to his show for several years regularly ... good, insightful interviews and a great, understanding persona. He will be missed.
Robert Loomis
December 20, 2014
Denis and I met while students at U.C. Berkeley in the early sixties. He forced me to give a listen to two new artists, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, still huge in my universe. We shared many great conversations and walks. I wish we had shared more of both.
David Moonitz
December 2, 2014
I worked with Denny at Telegraph- he was a generous gentle man who looked out for others. My deepest condolences.
Anita May
November 21, 2014
Denny often had as on-air guests local writers little known and otherwise scantilly promoted. He always treated them with kindness and respect, including the too rare respect of having read their books in advance. Always he made his show about them and
their work, never about himself. Farewell, my friend.
Bob Baldock
November 17, 2014
I worked with Denny at Codys. A good friend, a fellow southerner.
Patrice Suncircle
November 8, 2014
"A library burns whenever someone passes."
E. White
Jules Fisher
November 8, 2014
I was a customer at cody's for many years and always engaged with this wonderful soul as I purchased my books and to have him on my favorite radio station was a plus. I miss him already. blessings to the smithson family.
sheila goldmacher
November 8, 2014
Denny was a great baseball fan (A's) a prime creator of Cody's excellent spring baseball window, and helped bring numerous baseball writer's to Cody's for booksignings. He was also a sweetheart and a gentle man in every way.

Peter Fisher, Berkeley
November 7, 2014
I loved his show and the humanity he brought to every interview. A rare voice and heart in today's radio landscape.
November 7, 2014
My deepest sympathies to your entire family.
Reverend Yolanda R. Simmons
November 6, 2014
Denny, A great caring man, a fighter who never gave up in adversity. My friend who shared the pain and shock of 9/11 with me.

Lara, Thank you for letting me share his last days. Blessings on you. Barbara
barbara sholtz
November 6, 2014
we will miss him, I only knew his voice , his gentle ways, his love of his dogs through the radio airways. seems though the last time I heard him he signed off and it was sure if he would return. Blessings to his family
November 6, 2014
Denny trained me on the registers when I came to work at Cody's in 2001. He was a lovely, patient, and compassionate man. My condolences to his family and everyone who loves him. He will be missed.
Alisa Dockery
November 5, 2014

With My Deepest Sympathy, Adrienne
November 5, 2014
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