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In Memory Of Earthjustice Board Member Ted Smith

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View David Lawlor's blog posts
05 September 2012, 10:41 AM
Lifelong outdoorsman and humanitarian dies in hiking accident
Theodore (Ted) McRoberts Smith.

It was with great sadness that we learned of the loss of a member of the Earthjustice family. Ted Smith, a longtime conservationist and member of our Board of Trustees, died Labor Day weekend after falling during a hike near Mission Falls in Montana. Ted became an Earthjustice board member in November 2008 and recently was selected to serve as vice chair.

Earthjustice Board Chair Peter Carson remembers Ted in this way:

Ted was a true treasure. In the time that he was on the Board, I came to see him and rely on him as a source of unmatched wisdom and guidance. His self-deprecating humility belied a towering intelligence. Quiet, warm, open and tenderhearted, he was one of the greats, and we all benefitted by being in his circle.

For Ted, life was an adventure and an opportunity to improve the world. A native of Missoula, Montana, he worked summers for the U.S. Forest Service as a smokejumper flying out of Missoula and Fairbanks, Alaska. When he wasn’t in the field, Ted was working with philanthropic organizations to improve the lives of people around the world and to ensure the integrity of critical ecosystems.

Ted worked 12 years in Jakarta, Indonesia for the Ford Foundation and served six years as president of John D. Rockefeller III’s Agricultural Development Council, which focused on agricultural and resource policies in Asia and Africa. He was the founding director of the Consultative Group on Biological Diversity in 1987, and during the 1980s and 1990s served as a consultant to the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Rockefeller Foundation’s International Program.

For 15 years, Ted headed the Boston-based Kendall Foundation, where he developed programs in ocean fisheries policies, landscape conservation, watershed management and climate change. Throughout his career, Ted served on the boards of the Alaska Conservation Foundation, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Cambridge Energy Alliance, and Clean Air-Cool Planet. At the time of his death, he was a board member at the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative and a Senior Fellow at the University of Montana’s Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy.

"Ted will be missed by everyone at Earthjustice for his wisdom, vast experience, common sense, humor and commitment to a better world for us all," said Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen.

Ted’s brother Roger has asked that those wishing to make memorial gifts in Ted’s name may make them to Earthjustice.

Condolences may be sent to:

Roger Smith
c/o Earthjustice
50 California St., Suite 500
San Francisco, CA 94111

Ted was an unusually creative and dedicated environmental advocate and philanthropist, and a true lover of the outdoors. We will also greatly miss Ted and whatever he would concoct next to make the world a better place.

Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself.

Ted you defined the path in which we need to follow and a voice which was heard by many.

My condolences to Ted Smith's family, his friends, and of curse his colleagues at EARTHJUSTICE...I'm very sorry for your loss!!!!! He sounds like a warm wonderful human being!!!!!!

Ted was also a complete believer in the power of the grassroots - every day people who rise up, unite in a cause, and move an issue with their passion and commitment to deep social change.

Missing above in Kendall Foundation/New England accomplishments was his founding role in the creation of the New England Grassroots Environment Fund. He, with Ann Wallace, Jenny Russell, Gary Tabor and Ruth Hennig shaped and launched it. He served on its board for 6 years, and he, with his Kendall Foundation hat on, also made sure that this funder/activist collaborative got the funds it needed to do its work.

Ted and NEGEF's other founders hired me to organize the Fund. In that role, I have served for the last 16 years at its executive director. During that time, Ted has been a colleague, mentor and friend. How tragic, and how much missed he will be.

I met Ted through a good friend. Although we spent only two times in his gracious company, it was a quiet and delightful learning experience. His modesty of accomplishments came out only through anecdotal conversation. He provided us with his "B&B" hospitality in his beautiful home in Polson, with added walks along the lake. I regard these times as two of the best memories in my life.

We were looking forward to a weekend camping experience with Ted and friends at Hogback Cabin on Rock Creek the day before his life ended. Grief followed, but also uplifting feelings and remembrances of having known such a remarkable person.

I am a longtime supporter of Earthjustice and its proven efforts of commitment to our earth. How fitting that Ted personified its goals. How sorely he will be missed.

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