Keith V. Smith
Presented by Jim Klusman
Given at Rotary Club October 25, 2011
I first met Keith soon after I joined Rotary in 1988. It seems like we served together on various Rotary committees, including the Board, continuously since the mid-1990s. When I became chair of the planning committee in 1999 and later the governance committee, I twisted his arm to serve on those committees, and he did so faithfully as long as he could before he passed away. Keith always congratulated me for ensuring that the meetings I led generally lasted no more than one hour. He appreciated short meetings, and so, in his memory, I'll be reasonably brief in remembering him.
I'm sure many of you read his obituary in the Journal and Courier or online, so I'll just touch on some highlights. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and graduated from high school as valedictorian and president of his senior class. His intellectual breadth, which was something I always admired, is reflected in the degrees he earned: a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering physics, an MBA, and later a Ph.D. in finance. His degrees were from Ohio State University and Purdue University. He was always interested in the sports matchups between Ohio State and Purdue but, at least in front of me, he managed to appear neutral. I don't know if he played poker, but if he did, I'll bet he was good at it.
In 1966 Keith joined the faculty at UCLA, and by 1973 he was a full professor there. In 1979 he became Dean of the Krannert School at Purdue University, and he remained at the Krannert School until his retirement. After retirement he continued to teach, consult, and publish, adding to his already long list of accomplishments. He also served the community, in Rotary as well as in a variety of other roles.
Keith and Jane were married in 1991. They were inseparable during their 20 years of marriage. They worked together, played together, came to Rotary Club meetings together, and worshiped together.
Keith was known for his love of sports, both as a spectator and a participant. He enjoyed a good racquetball match with his friends, and it's said that he employed every physical and psychological skill he had to defeat his foes. Sometimes he would complain of multiple aches and pains prior to a match, but those aches and pains would seem to disappear as soon as play started.
As you would expect of someone who became dean of a school of management, Keith was a stickler for detail. He kept records of the scores in his racquetball matches and could tell his various competitors their win-loss records. If he was late for a meeting he might park his car where he could get a ticket, having determined the odds of getting a ticket and having calculated the average cost per illegal parking episode.
Keith had a great sense of humor and a great zest for life. Even after he was told of his cancer, he was upbeat and caring, and he faced his last days on earth without flinching. Keith, we'll miss you. We thank you for your service and for being an exceptional human being, and we remember you for the example you set for all of us.