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Robert H. Smith Tribute

January 1, 2010

The Johns Hopkins University and the Wilmer Eye Institute deeply regret the loss of their benefactor and friend, Robert H. Smith, who passed away the evening of December 29, 2009.  Bob was an inspiring philanthropist, one who shared the fruits of his success generously and ingeniously throughout the world.  He was a visionary developer who understood that vision is so much more than “sight.”  Bob showed us that true vision requires great insight and clarity of purpose that goes beyond seeing in the physical realm.

Proof of that shines at the Wilmer Eye Institute.  The new research and surgical building was dedicated on October 16, 2009, and named in honor of him and his wife Clarice, a Wilmer Advisory Council member.  The Smiths were involved in every detail of the construction from the interior design – to which Clarice donated several paintings – to the landscaping plan, for which they set up a maintenance fund.  Throughout the planning and construction, Bob was a supreme motivator, and his encouraging words continue to focus the institute’s work.  One phrase heard often was, “we have simple tastes:  we are only interested or satisfied with the best.”

In a rousing speech at the dedication of the Robert H. and Clarice Smith Building, Bob continued to share his enthusiasm for a generous and noble life. His most memorable comments include:

  • “It is our contribution to the future by which we will be defined.”
  • "No one has learned the essence of life until one has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellow man.”
  • “In life, there are catalysts that lift us higher and raise our sights if we allow ourselves to attach to them.”
  • “If your ship does not sail in, swim out to it.”
  • “People who build the future are those who know that greater things are yet to come and they will be the ones to bring them about.”

Bob and Clarice’s contributions to Wilmer are not just gifts.  They are investments in scientific discovery, in the future, and in hope.  On behalf of the Johns Hopkins University and the physicians and scientists at the Wilmer Eye Institute, we pledge our best efforts to honor Bob.  We will use those investments wisely and creatively, with dividends paid in eyesight saved and vision restored.

Our thoughts are with Clarice, their children, David and Michelle, and their four grandchildren.

Ronald J. Daniels
The Johns Hopkins University

         Edward D. Miller
Dean and CEO
Johns Hopkins Medicine 
         Peter J. McDonnell
Director and Professor
Wilmer Eye Institute  

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