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Obituary of the Day

February 3, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

colonel

Not being a regular reader of Greenwich Time, I had missed Leonard Smith’s obituary a week ago. But thanks to a retweet two days ago by New Yorker writer Philip Gourevitch, I got a second chance.

We don’t learn too much in the obit. After all,

Leonard Smith was a very private man. If you wanted to know his cause of death, he would have told you that it was none of your business. If you asked Penny, his beloved wife, she would tell you that he had cancer, but not to tell anyone.

But we do learn this about his military service.

He joined the Army Air Corps after his first term at M.I.T., and attained the rank of colonel, but only on the telephone when facilitating personnel discharges and equipment requisitions. He was discharged as a private.

And the ending offers a brief sketch of his character.

Leonard Smith hated pointless bureaucracy, thoughtless inefficiency and bad ideas born of good intentions. He loved his wife, admired and respected his children and liked just about every dog he ever met. He will be greatly missed by those he loved and those who loved him. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you cancel your subscription to The New York Times.

Leonard Smith would have thought that this obituary was about three paragraphs too long.

Colonel Smith, I wish I knew you.

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