F. Eugene Smith (1923-2011)
Gene took a special interest in design and art at an early age. He began college at the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) but was interrupted by World War II, when he enlisted in the armed services. He engineered maps and camouflage for air fields in North Africa, before an interest in aircraft led Gene to the 2nd Bomb Group in Foggia, Italy. He volunteered for and navigated in the 2nd BG’s two most costly raids of the war in February, 1944.
In 1946 he returned to Cleveland to finish his degree and join the CIA faculty. After a year with George Walker’s design office in Detroit, Gene, a classmate, Samuel Scherr, and Bernard McDermott, opened a design office in Akron, OH; Smith, Scherr, and McDermott. In 1960, Gene left the office to establish his own firm, F. Eugene Smith Associates, Inc. in Akron.
A dedicated environmentalist, Gene developed a slide show about aesthetic awareness entitled, “Why Ugliness? Why not?” Gene was invited to repeat “The Ugly Show” over 700 times. In the early 1970’s Gene designed the conversion of Akron’s Old Quaker Mills and Silos to Quaker Square, a project that was published nationally. In 1977 he founded F. Eugene Smith/Design Management, Inc. in Akron
Gene was a founder and Director Emeritus of Scenic Ohio and served on the Board of Scenic America, fighting tirelessly for the natural beauty of places and against excessive signage. He was a founding and active member of Progress Through Preservation (PTP). He established Re-Barn as a venture to adaptively re-use pre-Civil War barns.
Gene was a Fellow of the Industrial Design Society of America (FIDSA), and served on the boards of nearly two-dozen organizations; he additionally served on numerous advisory panels, commissions and committees. He was the recipient of over 60 local, regional and national awards and honors, including most recently the Ruth Wright Clinefelter Preservation Award for Lifetime Dedication to Historic Preservation.