Richard “Dick” N. Smith was a native of Westerly, Rhode Island and a 1961 graduate of Westerly High School. Dick served in the U.S. Army with the 11th Military Police Company, 11th Air Assault Division. Dick’s love for the military and for the patriots who wore the uniform was endless.
Dick Smith’s election to the ROTC Hall of Fame culminates a long period of service and intense personal dedication to the Reserve Officer Training Corps and stems from his unfailing work over the many years on behalf of the ROTC program at URI and for his tireless efforts to memorialize and remember those members of the URI military community who gave their lives in the service of our country.
Dick was a major force behind a considerable fundraising project to support the construction of a memorial in honor of the seventeen military service personnel from URI who were killed in action during the Vietnam War. This “URI-17”memorial is located immediately in front of the entrance to the Keaney Gymnasium and consists of a set of three large granite benches with the names of each of these seventeen soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who gave their lives in the service of their country. Were it not for Dick Smith’s relentless fundraising and memorial design efforts, this project would never have come to fruition.
In addition to the memorial, Dick has aggressively and consistently led a major corporate and individual fundraising campaign for many years. As a result of his efforts, he has been able to establish a sizeable account for the URI Alumni Association. A portion of this account is used each spring by the ROTC Alumni Association to present two complete sets of Army Dress Blue uniforms to deserving graduating cadets in Dick Smith’s honor.
Dick was a member of the Misquamicut Fire Department and Boy Scout Troop 2. He retired from Pfizer Corporation in 2001 after 28 years of dedicated service. Dick was a humble and dedicated philanthropist. Those organizations that were dear to him benefited immeasurably from his enduring labors and ability to touch people. An avid recycler, Dick was featured in Time Magazine as the “can man” who raised funds for Boy Scouts of America. The decades of recycling provided a fleet of canoes to Troop 2 Misquamicut and helped fund the COPE Challenge Course at Yawgoog Scout Camp.
In addition, Dick established and funded the Lieutenant Carl J. Myllymaki, USMC, Scholarship Fund in memory of his childhood friend who was killed in Vietnam. Each year the fund provides a deserving cadet a free Army dress uniform and a book on the history of the Viet Nam war.
In recognition of his extraordinary efforts to advance the goals, mission and traditions of the University of Rhode Island and its Alumni Association, Dick Smith received the University of Rhode Island Alumni Association Honorary Alumnus Award in 1997.
Richard Smith spent his entire life serving his community and nation. His exemplary devotion to duty and outstanding leadership is in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his family and the University of Rhode Island.
Richard N. Smith died on 5 June 2010. He was buried with full military honors in Riverview Cemetery in Westerly, Rhode Island.