Bill Smith, Longtime Printer, Instructor and GATF Education Director, Passes at Age 90
The Ben Franklin Honor Society of Printing Industries of America sent out a notice this week of the passing of Bill Smith, who had a long career serving in various roles within the printing industry, including a long stint at the former Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (GATF). An abbreviated obituary that focuses on Mr. Smith's career and commitment to ongoing industry education follows ...
William Henry (Bill) Smith, 90, died on April 11, 2019, in Lexington, Ky. The son and grandson of printers, at age 12 he became the “printer’s devil” for his grandfather’s print shop and learned to set and distribute type. Decades later he would recall the thrill of learning to run the 12x18˝ press and setting a record of running 17,000 sheets fed automatically through the new 25x38˝ Babcock-Optima cylinder press without a stop or sheet smash-up.
Bill loved to sing and majored in music education at Marion College (now Indiana Wesleyan) in Indiana. He graduated in 1953. While at Marion he worked for Modlin Printing Co. Soon after graduation, he joined the U.S. Army. Bill married Shirley Johnson in 1954, and they moved to Virginia where he entered the Army’s photolithography school at Ft. Belvoir. Upon graduation, he taught process camera until his tour of duty ended.
In 1958, the family moved to Brookings, S.D.. Bill was a typography/graphic design instructor with the Printing-Journalism Department at South Dakota State College and earned his M.S. in Management. In 1965, he accepted the position of Assistant Education Director at the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (GATF) in Pittsburgh. From 1986-1996 he was the Director of Special Programs, directing workshops, seminars and conferences. Over the years many wonderful friendships were formed with both co-workers and visiting students. Bill and Shirley delighted in hosting international students and Bill’s work at GATF connected them with many international visitors.
His wife Shirley died in 1983 and he then married Anne Sessa.
After Bill retired in August 1996, they moved to Kennebunk, Maine, and Bill initiated and administered the National Council for Skill Standards in Graphic Communications (NC), developing and administering NC skill certification examinations for high-tech operators in the printing industry. He retired from the National Council in 2003, and the couple moved to Sackville, New Brunswick. Bill and Anne then moved to Lexington, Ky., in 2017 in order to be closer to family.
Bill is survived by Anne and his three daughters, Renée Smith, of Pittsburgh; the Rev. Ardath Smith, also of Pittsburgh; and Dr. Liesl Smith, of Salem, Mass.; and one sister and brother.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, May 25, 2019, at 11 a.m. in the Gordon Chapel of the Church of the Ascension, 4729 Ellsworth Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213. A reception will immediately follow.