Dr. Van Smith practiced medicine the old-fashioned way: He devoted expertise and meticulous care to his patients without regard to their walk-in life or their ability to pay the bill. When he was faced with a medical problem that confounded him, he studied and researched until he found the answers. For 35 years, he practiced Internal Medicine in Harrison, and opened one of the first Coronary Care Units in the state. After retirement, he worked an additional two years at the VA Hospital in Little Rock as an assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine. Harold Van Smith, Jr. was born July 24, 1927 in Hope Arkansas. He ran wild on the streets of Little Rock, often working self-created jobs including shoe shine boy, wind-up toy hawker, short order cook, and newsboy. He joined the Navy at the age of 16, with his mother's signature on the document that listed his age as a year older. He served as a Radioman 2rd Class on the destroyer USS Preston during WWII. Following his service, he attended Hendrix College. His first graduation was from University of Arkansas School of Medicine in 1956, having joined the Navy before finishing high school, and having entered medical school before completing college. While at Hendrix, Van met the most important person in his life, Kay Jean Ritter, when she fell down a flight of stairs and into his arms. They married in 1952, and together produced six children who all reflect the influence of Van's passion for education, his love of nature, and his interest in social justice. Van's many avocations included photography, furniture building, surveying, and computers. He loved his home state of Arkansas and spent weekends with his family hiking and camping in the Ozark Mountains, hunting for Indian artifacts under the bluffs, and fishing and canoeing on the pristine lakes and rivers of the area. But he was never so happy as when he was home sitting behind his computer at the kitchen table, with his wife of 64 years –"My Lady" - bustling about the kitchen. Dr. Smith died April 15, at the Arkansas Heart Hospital in Little Rock following a short illness. Survivors include his devoted wife, Kay Jean Smith, brother, Chris Harrison, children, Robin Smith, Teresa Bennett, Jonathan Smith, Timothy Smith, Jennifer Smith, and Jason Smith, and sons and daughters–in-law Bruce, Maiada, Edwin, and Melanie, and grandchildren Meredith, Jessica, Adam, Noah, Gabriel, Joshua, Zoe, Andrew, and Ryan. Visitation will be 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday, April 20 at Holt Memorial Chapel in Harrison. Private family services will be held. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Boone County Library, 221 W. Stephenson, Harrison, Ark. 72601.
Published April 19, 2017