Amherst Magazine

Conrad Smeeth '53

Conrad Smeeth '53 died November 27, 2008.

CONRAD SMEETH ’53

Conrad Smeeth, a classmate for two years before shifting to Univ. of California-Berkeley, died Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27, 2008, in Santa Rosa, Calif., from complications of kidney failure and a lifetime of physical ailments. A memorial service was held on Mt. Tamalpais (near Marin), where Conrad’s ashes were spread. He is survived by his third wife, Jeanne Smeeth; his son David; daughter Nancy Dotti; and two granddaughters.

A roommate in 311 Stearns freshman year, I had little idea of Conrad’s battle with Krohn’s disease from the age of 19, which demanded several surgeries over his lifetime. Or, of course, that he would face chronic illnesses and lesser maladies all his years, poor health constantly sapping energy and affecting his attitude.

Yet that life was full of accomplishment, from a Stanford law degree and practice to a passion for painting that led him to become only an artist for his last 45 years. His desire for something more is best recalled in Conrad’s own words, read by his son David at the memorial service: “My goal in painting is that there is no goal. I only hope that this desire, that part of my mind that keeps wanting, wanting can be silenced for even an instant, as it might be in the act of painting. That is worth a lot to me.”

David added at the service: “My father believed that illness opened the door for him to pursue art. And pursue art is what he did. I know he was at times judged, I suspect most harshly by himself. Yet he persevered for almost 50 years, following his art wherever it took him. Perhaps his life urges us to consider the cycle of desire and look for something more, something profound. It looks to me like he found it.” 

Readers and friends are invited to add to this on the new Amherst In Memory Web site.
 
—Philip W. Ransom Jr. ’53

 

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