The movement for liberty and human flourishing mourns the loss of Don Smith, a highly accomplished man with a steadfast commitment to the values of a free society.
Don was a trustee of the Foundation for Economic Education from 2006 to 2015, and we owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude for his service, in addition to his very generous financial support.
There are dozens of free-market non-profit organizations on whose boards Don could probably have taken a seat, had he wanted to. He chose to join the FEE board because he believed in the importance of building the movement’s educational outreach, he thought FEE should be an important part of that, and he thought that he could help us figure out how to make it happen.
In his day job, he was brilliant at spotting both strategic opportunities and operational flaws in publicly-traded companies. He turned his critical eye with the same enthusiasm toward FEE’s educational programs. When looking through our financial statements (and yes, he was the sort of trustee who studied the financials in preparation for board meetings), he was known to remark that there seemed to be a few zeros missing!
All of us at FEE extend our sincere condolences to Don’s family and to the teams who worked with him.
Don thought we had strategic opportunities to reach broader audiences for liberty than ever before, which would require some new approaches. At the same time, we were funding programs that he thought were better suited to the 20th century than the 21st. He wasn’t shy about speaking his mind on either count.
This often led to vigorous debate, which Don relished—debate of the kind that characterizes healthy organizations, and which ultimately led to significant growth in FEE’s audiences and revenues.
Conservative in attire but informal by nature, Don was the life of the party after the gavel came down. The livelier the debate at a board meeting, the more affable Don became in the shared meal that followed, and the more you disagreed with him about business issues, the more effort he made to communicate his continuing friendship with you.
All of us at FEE extend our sincere condolences to Don’s family and to the teams who worked with him at Donald Smith & Co. and at the Smith Family Foundation. We will sorely miss him.