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Professor Emeritus Dr. Calvin Smith dies Christmas Eve; funeral set for Dec. 31

Dec. 29, 2009 -- Dr. C. Calvin Smith, the first African-American faculty member at Arkansas State University, died Dec. 24 in Jonesboro. Dr. Smith was 66 years old.

Dr. Calvin Smith (left) visits with former ASU President Dr. Eugene Smith during groundbreaking ceremony for new liberal arts building in 2008.

Visitation is scheduled for 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 30, at the First Baptist Church, 700 Kitchen Street, Jonesboro. Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 31, also at the First Baptist Church. Rev. Curtis Wilson will officiate. Burial will follow in Jonesboro Memorial Park Cemetery with arrangements handled by Woodard Funeral Home, 216 East Street, Jonesboro, (870) 802-0999.

Dr. Smith began his teaching career at Arkansas State in 1970 teaching history classes and retired following the spring semester in 2002. Upon his retirement, the university recognized him as a professor emeritus and the first distinguished professor of heritage studies. In fact, he was instrumental in helping to establish the doctoral program for heritage studies at ASU in 2000.

He became the 12th person to receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree in the May 2005 spring commencement ceremonies in recognition of outstanding achievements and exemplary contributions to education and the preservation of history. The first recipient was U.S. Senator Hattie Caraway in 1934.

A native of Marianna, Dr. Smith wrote two books, “War and Wartime Changes: The Transformation of Arkansas, 1940-1945,” in 1986 and “Educating the Masses: The Unfolding History of Black School Administrators in Arkansas, 1900-2000” in 2003. In 2004, he was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Arkansas State University.

Dr. Smith earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, completed his master’s degree at ASU and his doctorate at the University of Arkansas. He was a member of the Strong-Turner chapter of the ASU Alumni Association. While at ASU, he served as assistant dean and interim dean for the College of Arts and Sciences, interim dean of University College, and director of the Advising Center in the Arts and Sciences College. He was also active in many community organizations.

He is survived by his wife Earline and a son, C.C. In addition, he leaves a sister, Gladys Smith, and brothers Julius and Alfred Smith.

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