Val Houston Smith, professor at the University of Kansas for 23 years, passed away April 2 at his home in Lawrence. He was 65. Memorial visitation for Dr. Smith will be held from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. April 9, 2016 at Warren-McElwain Mortuary in Lawrence.
Val was born in 1950 in Lubbock, Texas, the son of Fray and Marcia (Dunn) Smith. He met his wife of 43 years, Marilyn Smith, on the KU campus. After receiving bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Chemistry, the couple went to Rutgers Univ. for Masters studies. From there, they went to the Univ. of Minnesota, where Val received his Ph.D., followed by a postdoc at McGill Univ. in Montreal. He was a faculty member at UNC and a visiting scientist at the Univ. of Montreal, before returning to Lawrence in 1993 as a faculty member in the KU Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
Val leaves behind an important scientific legacy, with many impactful papers in aquatic ecology, biofuels and the ecology of infectious diseases. He was an engaging speaker and was honored with teaching awards during his years of service.
In addition to his amazing intellect, Val was dedicated to his family. His wife Marilyn and daughters Niki Smith of Germany and Rosie Smith of Salt Lake City, UT, were by his side this week. Also with him were his sister and brother-in-law, Bridget and John Wilson of Albuquerque, NM.
Val truly made a difference in people’s lives, particularly his huge extended “family” (students, trainees and collaborators). He was an exceptionally kind man, dedicated to the health of Planet Earth. His huge heart, bright wit, and generous spirit will be greatly missed.
Memorials may be made in his name to the American Cancer Society, KUMC Cancer Center, or to a charity of donor’s choice and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary.
Online condolences may be sent to www.warrenmcelwain.com.