Forums General Discussion Passing of former USFG President Will Smith

  • Passing of former USFG President Will Smith

    Posted by Dan Lynch on October 14, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    Will Smith (June 11, 1940 – October 9, 2016)

    (Thoughts from USFG director and newsletter editor Dan Lynch)

    When I decided to learn to facet gems, somewhere around 15 or so years ago, I ended up at the Middle TN Gem & Mineral Society annual show here in Nashville. At the show I ran into Will who was demoing faceting, and learned he taught classes here with MTGMS. I quickly signed up for the next class starting a few weeks later. I couldn’t believe that this was even possible. $25 for the quarter classes with all equipment and instruction included.

    Will taught me to facet, increased my love for gemstones, and quickly became more than a teacher. Will was a friend and mentor. This same story I know is held by hundreds of students who went through not just faceting classes, but also lapidary arts, silver, and many others at our school which Will was a huge force in setting up and the continued drive behind it’s success. This quarter I’m now teaching faceting and we have over 300 students taking 30+ different classes. A true legacy.

    Will served recently (2014-2015) as the President of the USFG and worked tirelessly to improve the organizations reach and overall effectiveness. This wasn’t always easy and I know he rubbed some people the wrong way in the process. He knew what he needed to get done and was going to succeed. He also stepped up, apologizing where needed and built up the USFG to continue educating and reaching people with the art of gemstone faceting for years to come. He along with a few others set up the Faceting Frolic events which have been held now in Franklin NC (9 years running) as well as Tucson, Florida, and California.

    I have a number of “Will stories” as I’m sure many of you do. One that comes to mind was our trip in 2014 to Tucson. We were traveling together from Nashville and sharing a car and hotel room. Our first attempt at the airport was met with canceled flights which ended up pushing us back a day. On day two we made it out of Nashville, but were delayed and re-routed which put us into Tucson after 1:00am. After an hour at the rental car counter (their computers were down) we arrived at our “budget” motel to be told they were sold out. Following a good deal of “discussion” we were finally (around 2:30am) given a room with a single queen bed and a crack under the door to the outside larger enough that Will was certainly we were going to be visited by area wildlife during the night. Needless to say we changed hotels the next day and proceeded to have a great trip hunting down new faceting rough and spending time with friends at USFG events.

    Today I cut gemstones as part of my work. I wouldn’t be where I am today in this art if it wasn’t for Will Smith. I’m sure many of you who knew him would say the same.

    Feel free to share your “Will” story.


    From the Service of Celebration
    Will Herman Smith, Jr.
    June 11, 1940 – October 9, 2016

    Will Herman Smith, Jr., age 76, of Nashville, TN, died on October 9, 2016. He was surrounded by his family at home.

    Born on June 11, 1940, Will grew up in Smithville, TN, graduating from Smithville High. He attended Tennessee Technological University, majoring in Industrial Management, leading him to a successful business career. Smitty was active and had leadership roles in church, civic organizations, and Boy Scouts. He loved fishing, golfing, and all forms of geology, especially minerals and the lapidary arts. He felt that one of his greatest achievements was helping to create the Donelson Lapidary Arts School which has served over 550 students. He taught faceting, silversmithing, and jewelry making. It brought him tremendous joy when he watched his students take something from a raw state and form it into something that they were proud to wear. He also served as the President of the USFG 2014-15. Surpassing all of these accomplishments, nothing was more important to him than his family. He generously shared his time, talents, wisdom, and resources.

    Will’s family would like to thank all those who offered prayers and sent supportive correspondence; those gestures where invaluable. We are asking in lieu of flowers to please consider a memorial contribution to your church, favorite charity, or Mid-Tennessee Gem & Mineral Society (c/o FiftyForward Donelson, 108 Donelson Pike, Nashville, TN 37214).

    The following poem was from the program at Will’s celebration of life and sums up things well from him.

    I’m Free

    Don’t grieve for me, for now I’m free
    I am following the path God laid for me.

    I took His hand when I heard Him call,
    I turned my back and left it all.

    I could not stay another day
    To laugh, to love, to work, or play.

    Tasks left undone must stay that way.
    I found peace at the close of the day.

    If my parting has left a void,
    Then fill it with remembered joy.

    A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss;
    Ah, these things, I, too, will miss.

    Be not burdened with time of sorrow,
    I wish for you the sunshine of tomorrow.

    My life’s been full; I savored much
    Good friends, good times, a loved one touched.

    Perhaps my time seemed all too brief,
    Don’t lengthen it now with undue grief.

    Lift up your heart and share with me.
    God wanted me now; He set me free.

    Alan Balmer replied 7 years, 9 months ago 3 Members · 2 Replies
  • 2 Replies
  • markaoros

    October 16, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    A gentleman, true to his craft and his Guild.

  • Alan Balmer

    October 16, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Thanks, Dan. A fine tribute to Will. We will miss him.

Log in to reply.