David S. Smith ’42
April 13, 2012
David S. Smith ’42 was a former U.S. ambassador to Sweden and a decorated veteran who founded the International Fellows Program at Columbia University. He passed away on April 13, 2012, at the age of 94.
Smith grew up in Omaha, Neb., and earned degrees from Dartmouth University and the Sorbonne in Paris. After completing his studies at Columbia Law School in 1942, he served for four years in the U.S. Navy as a lieutenant. Smith was wounded in action at Saipan and later received the Purple Heart.
After the war, Smith worked as a corporate lawyer and then joined the Eisenhower administration, first as special assistant to the secretary of state, then as assistant secretary of the Air Force in 1953. In 1960, Smith retuned to Columbia as dean of the School of International and Public Affairs. During his tenure, he founded and directed the Columbia International Fellows Program, a two-semester seminar focused on preparing students to deal with complex global changes in a practical way.
In 1964, Smith returned to private practice, but he was called back to public service when President Gerald Ford appointed him U.S. ambassador to Sweden in 1976. In 1977, Smith resumed practicing at Martin and Smith, a firm he co-founded in Washington, D.C., before retiring in 1990.
Smith was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs, in addition to other notable organizations.
He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Mary Edson Smith; his sons, Edward, David Jr., and Jeremy; and six grandchildren.