"Paul Smith went beyond teacher and friend to become a beloved part of my family, along with his wife, Romaine. Paul was assigned as my advisor, and in our first conversations I told him about my mental illness and rehabilitation. That meant nothing to him. I was a student. Nontradional,in more ways than one, but a student none the less. Paul challenged me constantly to be the person I could be, and not allow my shortcomings to rule my life. At the same time, I could always count on a helping hand getting to the third floor of Old Main. Paul and I had a running argument about journaling, an activity that he required and that I abhorred. I finally finished a journal and turned it in on time and was rewarded with a C and "congratulations" written in the final notes.
Our relationship continued into the future as he and Romaine allowed me to care for their cats and their home when they traveled. We exchanged phone calls and I felt so close as to call them family. When my father died, they were there for me. I found out only today that he had gone, but my sense of loss is tempered by the knowledge that he is with God, and with my dad, who considered him a wonderful man also. May God watch over his family and may we all be comforted with the many happy memories and people that Paul left behind - for now. All my love."
"Dr. Smith was a great man who played a very special role in my life. He taught me a great deal in many aspects of my life. My prayers and sympathy go out to his family."
- Stan Belkowski
"I especially remember taking Seventeenth Century Poetry and Prose with Paul Smith. He used to sit on the edge of his desk holding a piece of paper with four or five talking points and have us eating out of the palm of his hand, 90 minutes at a stretch. A master teacher."
- Ted Wilcox '71
"Dr. Smith is one of three English professors who showed me the sophistication and pleasure of literature in God's world, and who prepared me to be a career journalist. I thank God for him."
- Drew Gordon '82
"I was blessed to walk along this path of life together with Paul Smith for a short while. Yet, the brevity of that time does not compare to the sense of loss that we all share. I will miss Paul. But thanks be to our Lord, this sense of loss will be temporary, till we all meet again..."
- Dr. Murat Tanyel, Professor of Engineering
"I fondly remember Dr. Smith inviting our class to his home at the end of my senior year 1952. I was a mature student and he made me feel so welcome, as I was the oldest member of the class. I am sad to hear of his passing but he will always be lovingly remembered."
- Claire Mervis '53
"If it hadn't been for Dr. Smith, this very message would be too wordy and lack conciseness. Dr. Smith dismantled my writing acumen, only to rebuild it and help me go on to teach English, edit books and help others to love literature. During one stretch, I took a Dr. Smith class 5 semesters in a row--talk about running the gauntlet! But he proved to be gracious time and again--even when he caught Christen Penn and me skipping his class one day. With a smug look on his face, he approached us and asked, 'Why didn't you tell me you were skipping? I would have bought the pizza and joined you.' What a great loss for us all...and what a legacy he has left."
- Marc Santom
"I am so saddened by the death of Dr. Paul Smith. I first met Dr. Smith in English 111 of my freshman year; he soon became one of my favorite professors, especially of writing. Although he possessed great wisdom, his kindness, humility, and warmth invited students to engage in discussion of literature and writing. No idea was ever too foolish to be spoken in Dr. Smith's presence. As I added English Lit as a major, Dr. Smith became my patient and understanding advisor. He gave me a very understanding audience during a tumultuous period in my life. I was so honored when Dr. Smith referred to me as his friend in a letter of recommendation. He provided hard challenges in my development as a writer, but I so yearned for his stamp of approval that I rose to meet those challenges. Dr. Smith's fingerprints are all over my writing and I still find myself wondering what suggestions he would make on my work. I am so sad to think I will never bump into him again, on Geneva's campus or in some quaint local restaurant, but I look forward to meeting him again in heaven someday, where I hope we get to sit and discuss once more our favorite pieces of literature.
- Kim Smith Baker
"I was so saddened to get the e-mail about the passing of Dr. Smith. When I think of my most memorable classes I always remember his. He was witty and enjoyable to listen to and always was always able to get a response out of me. When I was about to graduate he told me he would miss having me in his classes because it was so easy to get me to argue with him and consequently get a good discussion going. I had to work really hard in his classes and always came out with a B+! My sympathy goes out to his family."
- Connie Clark Smith
"When I wandered aimlessly out of a Biology major and into his Brit Lit class, he helped me find my place. What a wonderful person he was - full of wit and encouragement, and truly caring. Even years after I graduated he would visit with me when I came back, and always would remember what I had been up to the last time we spoke."
- Jessica (Williams) Rudmin
"Dr. Smith was not only an excellent professor, but he was a great mentor and friend to me during and after college. He pushed me as a writer and as a critical thinker in all of his classes. He offered a listening ear during my father's sickness. And when my father died, he encouraged me to write about it as way to cope and it later became my senior thesis. I owe a lot of my sanity during those Geneva years to him. He was always so understanding but tough at the same time. I'm a better writer and a better person because of Dr. Smith. While those of us on earth mourn his loss, there are those on the other side who are celebrating his arrival."
- Erin Mentzer '05
"Dr. Smith challenged me as a student and as a writer. Whenever I started to 'coast' and not apply myself, with gentle insistence, he prodded me to do better. He once wrote at the bottom of one of my compositions, 'You're being diligent with a vengeance, but that's OK.'
He became one of my favorite professors when I enrolled in his American literature course one summer. There were only two other people in the class, so we met in his office and discussed American poets and writers over hot tea each morning. In many ways, it felt more like a book club than a class, and I'll never forget how much I enjoyed the company as well as the course. On the last day of class, when we turned in our final paper, I told him that my boyfriend planned to take me out for seafood if I got an A, or out for Mexican food if I got a B. Waiting for me in my mail slot the next day was a small note that read, 'Enjoy your lobster!' I still have that note, tucked into the American lit textbook I kept as a resource and as a memento.
I am profoundly grateful to God to have had Dr. Smith as a teacher, and I am grateful to Dr. Smith for guiding me to be diligent with a vengeance, to strive to reach my potential as a writer and as a person. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."
- Nicole Peffer
"I have never had any other teacher make such a profound impact in my life as Dr. Paul Smith, or 'Uncle Paul'. He became my ideal of what a teacher should be and gave me advice that I still follow to this day. I am so grateful that God placed him in my path. He was truly just a wonderful person to know. 'His Lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant...' (Matt. 25:21)"
- Araina (Howard) Tivis ('01)
"Dr. Smith was still Mr. Smith when I had him for class at Geneva. He was an excellent teacher, possessing the unique to bring literature to life for his students. He always treated his students with dignity and fairness. I am sorry to learn of his passing."
- Chris Henderson '70
"I remember having Dr. Smith in my Humanities class at Geneva. He had a great sense of humor and was a great professor."
- Richard Kirkwood '88
"Dr. Smith was my favorite professor at Geneva. I will never forget the Russian Drama seminar where he taught us to write tight, cogent responsive essays after reading Chechov. He was my adviser for my Honors project in Japanese Haiku poetry and always pushed me to do more and go farther. I am still striving to become the haiku poet he believed I could be. Thank you Dr. Smith and enjoy your rewards in glory!"
- Andromeda Jazmon
"My first college course was Dr. Smith's British Lit class in the fall of '97. I was scared silly, and those books, even in excerpt, were a blistering challenge for a boy with no real understanding of history and geographical elements of literature. I would read his assignments first out of all my work and devote the most time to his coursework and journaling, not because I was a good student, but because he respected me. He showed genuine respect to me, who knew nothing of the psychological and sociological constructs he brought up on every topic and out of every text. I threw up the slightest burps of elegance and he ran with them as if he'd heard something from a learned colleague. I may or may not have been the greatest challenge to his kindness, but that's my lasting impression of him: a man with the patience to endure fools in the hope that they may become sages."
- Adrian Angelo
"It was Dr. Smith who taught me that patience and passion are what make a good teacher. I will never forget The Green Knight and the amazing patience and gentleness with which he coached me through 3 years of my undergrad at Geneva. He was a truly remarkable professor who took a keen personal interest in his students. His subtle influence will always be a part of my personal and professional life."
- Allison (Pearson) Johnson
"I have a graded test paper from Dr. Smith's American Literature class that bears a stain from the bottom of his coffee cup. He drew a red arrow with his grading pen and wrote "sorry" is his characteristic hand. Every so often, I page through my old papers and always smile to see that there. I will always picture him, relaxed at his desk to do some grading, door always open for a wandering student. Thank you, Dr. Smith, for your legacy of wisdom, warmth, humor, and kindness. You touched my life in the richest of ways."
- Julie (Willis) Thompson '98
"Paul helped me beyond measure when I arrived at Geneva the fall of 2003. Such a kind and wise friend. He will be missed."
- Keith Starcher
"My deepest condolence to Dr. Smith's family and the entire staff at Geneva. Even though I did not know Dr. Smith personally, I am sure he left his legacy for all of us as a token to share with our community."
- Ruby Hamilton '03, CUTS
"Although I had a number of professors throughout my undergrad and grad school years, I can say without hesitation that Dr. Smith will always be my favorite professor. He was my first professor on my first day at Geneva (Brit Lit 1), and, for me, he set the standard for all professors to come. As a newly-divorced nontraditional student, I recognize now that God introduced me to Dr. Smith as my professor (and eventual mentor) during the most difficult time of my life. Dr. Smith understood my 'station' in life and treated me more like a peer than anything else, which I greatly appreciated. This simple kindness made him all the more endearing to me. Even though I haven't talked to him in a number of years, I will still miss him...though I know I will see him again one day, praise God!"
- Kimberly (Wamsley) Callaghan
"During my time at Geneva, I had more classes with Dr. Smith than with any other professor, and it was consistently a good experience. He was such a perceptive, gentle and humble man. I pray that his wife, children and other loved ones will feel Christ's peace as they endure this loss."
- Pete Schreffler '83
"Dr. Smith was one of my favorite professors and my academic advisor. He was soft-spoken and always made class interesting. At the end of my junior year, we discover that I had not taken the American Lit II course required for my major and that it would not be offered again during my senior year. Dr. Smith set up an independent study for me that summer. I really enjoyed the one-on-one class time with him and learned a lot. Most of all, I appreciate him taking time out of his own schedule to make sure I got that class in so I could graduate."
- Wendy Allman
"Dr. Smith was a dear professor, mentor, advisor, colleague and friend. I was lucky enough to stay in contact with Dr. Smith over the years since my graduation from Geneva. One of my best memories was presenting a paper with him at the Festival of Faith & Writing in 2008. In turn, I will never forget the summer session we spent working on an independent study entitled "Justice & Mercy" where he challenged me to examine Micah 6:8 with a narrative I was writing: 'But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don't take yourself too seriously€”take God seriously.' Dr. Smith was a good man who took the Lord seriously. He will be greatly missed, and I look forward to seeing him again someday."
- Renae R. Applegate House
"Dr. Smith was my favorite professor! I am absolutely heartbroken at the thought of our world without him in it. I agree with Greg - that he is now enjoying a good book in Heaven....reading that made me smile through the tears....I am so thankful to have been one of his students."
- Heather Felts Tutwiler
"Soft spoken, witty, patient and caring is the way I remember Paul Smith. He was a trusted advisor that challenged me and had my best interest in mind. He was one of so many professors that made such a positive impact on my educational experience at Geneva."
- Daniel Meyer
"Dr. Paul, as I called him, used to make me so mad by giving me C after C in my writing. He would let me get good and mad as I argued my points and then in his gentle kind way, he would explain why I was wrong. Oh, he made me so mad! And as a result, I worked all the harder. He somehow knew that anger was my motivator. I remember beaming when he finally gave me a B, saying I had truly earned it. Dr. Paul made me work harder than anyone, something for which I will always be grateful. I will miss you Dr. Paul."
- Jean (Radcliff) Ruhlen ('86)
"Dr. Smith was one of the best writing professors I had. He revealed a voice all my own in a pattern of gerunds and metonymies and sentence openers and anaphoras and complex-compound syntax followed by simple declarative statements. He forced me to deconstruct and analyze my own writing in a way I never would have considered without his prompting. He forced me to question my process and evaluate its success. He taught me the value and the beauty of revision after revision after revision. He taught me the vital importance of honest and brutal peer critiques. He taught me to make choices instead of relying on instinct. He made me aware of my writing. He woke me up."
- Elizabeth Mock
"The best thing about Geneva College comes in the form of people like Paul Smith. His presence and work were a blessing in countless ways. He was my favorite professor, and I cherish my memories of him."
- Lydia McChesney Bosch ('98)
"Dr. Smith was an exceptional teacher, guide, and friend, who helped me discover that my writing and insights were valuable and interesting. He challenged and encouraged me in so many ways. I appreciated and admired him so much. I miss him."
- Danielle Stark
"While I only had one class with Dr. Smith, he made a profound impact on my life. He challenged many of the assumptions I held as a writer, and ultimately helped me focus more on the Kingdom."
- Jason Panella '04
"I have lost a great friend and partner. I will miss him very much. Dr. Smith taught me a lot about character development and sympathy for my audience. His wit was razor-sharp, and his heart was tender beyond compare. A rare servant has retired from his labors. See you later, partner!"
- Richard Morris
"I had the opportunity to interact occasionally with Dr. Smith in my role as Director of Student Activities and Student Development Publications. He was a kind and sincere man who loved the Lord. I pray God's peace for his family and the Geneva community."
- Susan Moody - former staff member
"Although I never had the opportunity to have met Dr. Paul Smith, I get a feeling from his background that he was a man full of wisdom and understanding. It's a blessing to associate ourselves with a man of great talent. I know that he will be sadly missed by many however, I believe that the life he lived will forever remain in the hearts of many. My prayers and blessing goes out to the members and friends of this great man. God bless!"
- Rev. Thomas O. Jeffcoat, Sr.
"Dr. Smith is the one who truly taught me how to be an excellent teacher. His love for literature made me want to pass that love on. He was my advisor and was always there to talk with me when I needed help or direction. He was a great man and will be missed."
- Jamie Wohrle Mizan
"Dr. Smith's teaching and Godly example has had a profound influence on my life. He was my favorite professor. He will not be forgotten.
'Good friend, for Jesus´ sake forbeare
To digg the dust enclosed here!
Blest be ye man that spares thes stones
And curst be he that moues my bones.'"
- Karen-Susanne Whitlock '82
"Dr. Smith was one of the best teachers I had at Geneva. I loved every one of the classes I had with him - he was smart, witty and caring. He always had time to talk to us, and he listened. He was a wonderful man."
- Mary (Hooper) Dumont
"In my short stay at Geneva, a few events would forever be etched in my memory. One of these was Dr. Smith's British Literature course. Dr. Smith was, by far, one of the most engaging, yet calm professors I've ever met. He made all of us think through what we read and comprehend it on a completely new level. The Geneva community will, no doubt, miss him greatly."
- Mike Arienti
"Dr. Smith was my advisor all four years at Geneva. He encouraged me and influenced how I taught my students for years to come. I enjoyed getting to know him and his wife. They were a fantastic pair. He was one I always looked for when we would visit at homecomings. He has left his fingerprint at Geneva. I wll surely miss him, but look forward to seeing him in heaven again one day."
- Kim (Lias) Vucelich
"I took a few classes from Dr. Smith in the mid-1990s. I always appreciated his intelligence, insight, kindness, and humor. It was always a pleasure to be in his company. He was a truly gifted educator and a decent man."
- Jaime McLeod
"I greatly enjoyed the classes I took with Dr. Smith including British Literature and Creative Writing: Fiction. I always felt challenged by his teaching and, in his classes, began to feel more confident about my own abilities as a writer. He was a great teacher and so funny; he had us laughing often. He even opened his home to some of his students once! I feel so blessed to have known him."
- Caryn (McClain) Platt
"A good teacher and a great man. I was in some of the last classes he ever taught, and even after 40 years of teaching, his were some of my more anticipated subjects."
- Kelly Young
"Attending classes under Dr. Smith was the academic highlight of my time at Geneva. Whether in the classroom discussing literature and writing or in his office just making small talk, Dr. Smith was always a pleasure to be around. In his writing classes, I was delighted when I received his praise because I knew it wasn't given lightly, and I was challenged by his criticism because I knew that it was given to strengthen me."
- John Baker
"Dr. Smith was one of the first profs I came into contact with on my journey to finishing my B.A. He challenged me to find my voice in my writing and to persevere in my courses. I will always remember him and his kindness to me."
- Amy (Brown) Totin
"Dr. Smith was so much more than a professor, he was a scholar and an extraordinary human being."
- Ray VanSickle
"I was privileged to develop a acquaintance with Paul Smith when I served on the President’s Cabinet with him as representatives of the faculty during Jack White’s administration. Paul taught me much about Geneva, about higher education, and about life. He was a very wise individual.
That professional relationship grew into friendship, for which I am immensely grateful. I am sad that my friend has died.
Compared with many of you, my relationship with Paul was relatively brief.
May God be with each of you who are experiencing a very deep sense of grief on the occasion of Paul’s passing into glory.
'Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.' (Psalm 116:5)"
- Dr. Ken Carson, Provost
“In addition to taking many of his classes – American Literature, British Literature and others —Dr. Smith was also my advisor. I remember meeting with him in his office each semester as, together, we navigated the challenges of scheduling classes for both of my majors. I will miss his wisdom, wit and charm, but I know that he is now enjoying a good book in Heaven..”
- Greg Wise
Geneva was named a Christian College of Distinction, affirming the school’s dedication to high quality academics founded on the inerrant truth of God’s word.