Clyde Curry Smith died at the age of 86 in the presence of friends on August 5 at River Falls Hospital from congestive heart failure.
Clyde was born on December 16, 1929, in Hamilton, Ohio, the only child of Mabel Ethel Ola (Curry) Smith (1893-1970) and Clyde Charles Smith (1892-1952). He was an active member in the Lindenwald Church of Christ in Hamilton and involved in the Christian Youth Fellowship in Ohio including its summer camps.
Clyde attended Miami University of Ohio from which he received his A.B. in Physics, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and with honors in 1951, and, in August of that same year, his M.S. in Mathematical Physics. In the fall of 1951, he received a scholarship to the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. That fall, upon arriving at the Divinity School at the University of Chicago to begin work towards a degree in theology, he learned about the Disciples Divinity House. He became a House Scholar and earned his B.D. (1954) , A.M. (1961) , and Ph.D. (1968) degrees. He was ordained in 1954.
In 1951 while attending a church conference for college students in Ohio, he met Ellen Marie Christine Gormsen of Lakewood, Ohio, a student at Bowling Green State University, Ohio. They later met again and served together as staff at Camp Christian and, on June 13, 1953, they were married at her home congregation, the Lakewood Christian Church. After their Chicago years, in 1958, they moved to Winnipeg, Canada, where Clyde began his academic career at St. John’s College, University of Manitoba. They subsequently had two children: Harald in 1960, and Karen in 1961.
Clyde moved to Brandeis University in 1963, and he then joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in 1965, where he was promoted to full professor in 1972 and from which he retired in 1990. In addition, he was an exchange professor at Edge Hill College of Higher Education, Ormskirk, England (1970-71), an NEH fellow at the University of California-Santa Barbara (1978-9), and a visiting research fellow at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. After retirement, he served as a visiting professor at Culver-Stockton College and at The University, Newcastle upon Tyne, England. In 1999, he received an honorary doctorate from Fairfax University.
An expert in ancient history, the Old and New Testaments, ancient Greek and Semitics, Clyde has worked with students and colleagues over many years and wrote extensively for scholarly journals, biographical and encyclopedic works, and book reviews including: the Journal of Early Christian Studies, Introduction to World Religions, the Dictionary of African Christian Biography, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and the Dictionary of World Biography. Yet his interests were far ranging beyond this base as his many friends and colleagues will attest and included such diverse topics as: religious studies, Roman Britain and Anglo-Saxon England, the Vikings, world archaeology, genealogy, 20th century U.S. and world naval ships, and space exploration. In the summer of 1978 he even led a tour of Roman Britain.
Clyde had long supported the Disciples Divinity House at the University of Chicago and with wife Ellen provided generously for future scholars. Clyde was active in the River Falls community, notably serving for many years as a board member and officer of the River Falls Library Foundation to support its mission to enhance the quality of River Falls Public Library services to the community. Clyde and Ellen also supported numerous other educational programs including Public TV and the Science Museum of Minnesota. They regularly attended theatre productions at UW-RF and the ice cream socials at Rock Elm, WI, both of which they greatly enjoyed.
Clyde was proceeded in death by his wife Ellen, his best friend and dear companion, and is survived by his son, Harald, and his wife Mary and their three children: Rebecca, Cecilia, and Paul; and his daughter, Karen, and her husband Phil and their four children: Christopher, Brittany, Matthew, and Cassie.
A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m., Saturday, November 12, 2016 at First Congregational United Church of Christ, River Falls, WI. Visitation will be at 1:00 p.m., prior to the memorial service on Saturday, November 12.
Cashman-Hill Funeral Home & Cremation Services of River Falls assisted with final arrangements