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Doug Smith

of Little Rock, AR, 1940 - 2014

DOUG SMITH, a longtime journalist who wrote principally for the old Arkansas Gazette and the Arkansas Times, died Thursday, Nov. 27, at the age of 74 at a Little Rock hospice.
Plagued by heart trouble, he had retired at the end of 2013 as a reporter, columnist and editorial writer for the Arkansas Times.
Smith, whose full name was Paul Douglas Smith, was born Feb. 7, 1940, at Ione in Logan County. He graduated from Searcy High School and the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where he was associate editor of the Arkansas Traveler, the campus newspaper, and editor of the Razorback, the school yearbook. He was one of three children. An older brother, Mike, an Air Force captain, was killed in a plane crash in Vietnam.
He went to work for the Gazette in 1963 as a reporter and in about 1970 he became a political and state government reporter. His last eight years or so were with the paper's editorial page. His spare and mordant literary style flourished in the latitudes of the editorial page. The Gazette's editorials, typically long and heavy with argument, were leavened by Smith's often mock-serious pieces on such subjects as the social disorders of cats. On matters of gravity, his editorials were equally spare but often caustic. He believed persuasion was a pointless exercise, and he went straight to the point.
When it was reported that President Ronald Reagan kept diaries, Smith wrote a spoof under the headline "Are these the Reagan Diaries?" about a day's entries by the president. Imitating the classical diary entries of Samuel Pepys, the 17th century British naval administrator, Smith adapted Pepys to what he imagined were the musings and style of the 40th president.
When the Gazette closed in 1991, Doug went to work for the Arkansas Times. He wrote in-depth articles and nearly all the paper's editorials for the next 22 years. At the Gazette, he wrote a humorous weekly column on English usage that was rich with wordplay, and he continued the column, called "Words," at the Times after retiring, until the spring of 2014 when he became too ill to write.
Doug was an autodidact of deep knowledge, especially in history, biography and sports. He was cherished by his friends as a man of quick wit and keen perception. An unapologetic liberal, Doug fired off withering ripostes to conservative gibes that his editorials often brought. He made no secret of his disdain for disingenuous, sanctimonious, uninformed and self-absorbed opinion writers.
Gov. Mike Beebe, who is from Searcy, Smith's hometown, sent him a letter at the hospice expressing his concerns.
"I want you to know how much I've admired your tenacity, independence and commitment to journalistic excellence over the many years we've known each other. You've been a legend for a long time, from your days as reporter and editorial writer at the Arkansas Gazette to becoming the words and language guru, among other work, at the Arkansas Times. Thanks for your many thought-provoking contributions to the world of journalism, and thank you for your friendship."
As the son of clothiers, he prided himself on being a well-dressed man, wearing a suit and tie (or sometimes a sports coat and tie) to the office nearly every day. It's doubtful Doug ever wore a pair of blue jeans.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Paul and Madge Ward Smith; a brother, William W. "Mike" Smith and a nephew, Michael Paul Smith. He is survived by a sister, Ann Fair of Memphis; three nieces, Bobbie Andrews and Necia Cuesta of Memphis and Valerie Canepa of Searcy; a nephew, Doug Fair of Southaven, Miss.; four great-nieces; a great nephew and a great-great nephew.
A memorial service led by Marie Mainard O'Connell will be held at 1 p.m. Monday at Ruebel Funeral Home. Burial will be at Roselawn Memorial Park.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made to the Central Arkansas Library System Foundation, 100 Rock St., Little Rock AR 72201, or the ACLU of Arkansas. Arrangements by Ruebel Funeral Home,

Published November 30, 2014

Ruebel Funeral Home
6313 West Markham Street, Little Rock, AR
Phone: 501-666-0123