Emeritus Professor, USN CAPT (Ret.), Dr. Harrison York Smith passed away peacefully on January 31, 2021 in Shreveport, LA at the age of 84. Harrison was born on September 5, 1936 to Harrison S. Smith and Madye Lee Smith in Shreveport, LA. Affectionately known to his family as Smitty, Sonny Boy, York and sometimes D.O.D (“Dear Old Dad”), Harrison’s laughter, love of family and friends, and quick wit will forever be missed. His dedication to the pursuit of knowledge and equality will be a legacy to remember.
Harrison achieved an accomplished, lifelong career in education, as both student and teacher. First graduating from Southern University (1959), majoring in Secondary Education with a concentration in Business Accounting, he then completed his Master of Social Work (MSW) at Washington University in 1969 with a concentration in Social Welfare Administration. Beginning his doctorate at University of Chicago, Harrison received his Ph.D. with a concentration in Mental Health Administration at University of Denver in 1981. Known as ’57, Bro Smith was an Omega Psi Phi fraternity brother and was actively involved with fellow Que members while living in South Korea from 2012-2015.
Dr. Smith’s teaching career began as an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Elmhurst College (Illinois) from 1970 – 1975. He taught for 19 years in the School of Social Welfare at the University of Kansas as an Associate Professor. Harrison joined the School of Social Work at Eastern Michigan University as a full professor in 1994 until retiring in 2010. Throughout his academic career, Harrison focused on creating comprehensive social work practices, encompassing and addressing a full range of personal, group and familial dynamics. While at Eastern Michigan, he designed and taught new courses such as Social Work Practice in Behavioral Health, and Social Work Practice with Military Families. He published 15 journal articles and book chapters, served on numerous councils and committees, and participated in university accreditation survey teams throughout his tenure. In addition to his faculty teaching load, he worked as a Substance Abuse Program Evaluator for the Detroit Department of Health and Wellness Promotion where he secured grants from the U. S. Department of Justice for youth substance abuse prevention programs. Dr. Smith was also the Director for the MSW program during the 2006 Academic Year.
Initially drafted into the United States Army in 1959, Harrison’s commitment to military service was unwavering and a source of pride throughout his life. Harrison received a direct commission into the U.S. Navy in 1976 and retired as a Navy Captain in 1996. During his 20 years of service in the Navy, he was heavily involved in reserve recruiting programs in a five-state region (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah). CAPT Smith was a Presiding Senior Officer of Administrative Board proceedings per Uniform Code of Military Justice and he coordinated officer and enlisted career development trainings. Always an educator, Harrison was a member of the Navy ROTC Scholarship Selection Boards from 1978 – 1985. Harrison also served as Assistant Field Director for the American National Red Cross from 1962-1970 in Chicago, Illinois, Topeka, Kansas, South Korea, and Japan.
One of Harrison’s greatest passions was collecting antiques, never missing an opportunity to visit a local antique store, mall, or estate sale. This was evident in his extensive and beloved radio collection. He was one of only a handful of people in the world who owned all three Zenith Stratosphere radios, a rare collector’s accomplishment. His antique collection also included art pottery, original oil paintings and furniture. An entrepreneur at heart, this passion led him to open Salisbury Antiques & Artifacts in Salisbury, North Carolina, bringing him out of retirement at the young age of 82 years. This was his second venture, as he also opened a popular restaurant/nightclub, Patches, in Kansas City, Missouri in the late 90’s.
Harrison, sweet as elderberry wine, is survived by his wife, Martha A. Smith, sister Madye Lee Young, daughters Geoffri Nichole Smith and Schoen Frances Smith; sons Gensan Kernan Smith (Sarah), Langston Justice Dillardsmith, James Winfrey II (Kami), Kyle Steven Sutton (Sara) and Dallas Matthew Sutton (Allison). Granddaughters Shawn Renee Smith, Kelly Nichole Smith, Teresa Marie Smith, Azalea Elizabeth Steiger-Smith, Willow Ruth Steiger-Smith and many cousins, nephews, nieces and friends. Harrison is preceded in death by his parents, brothers Julius Caesar Smith, John Ed Smith, sister Sarah Elizabeth Green and son Harrison York Smith II.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Bell Tower Green - Cultivating Community - Salisbury, NC.
The family would like to thank the caregivers from St. Joseph Hospice in Shreveport, LA; Home Based Primary Care Providers at the VA Medical Centers in Salisbury, NC and the Shreveport , LA and the Oncology team at Novant Healthcare System in Charlotte, NC.
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