David Smith, 60, adventurer, leader

Posted: June 21, 2011

DAVID MATTHEW Smith was a mountain climber, a hiker and a marathon runner, but shortly after taking a long hike last winter, he wound up in the hospital with a rare form of cancer.

On Feb. 17, he wrote to family and friends, "From hiking five miles three weeks ago, an independent soul excited for upcoming trips to the UK, Australia and Singapore, eager to explore more new destinations, foods, and celebrate turning 60 with Wanda in the Caribbean, I am now nearly fully dependent on others for the most basic of human care."

While describing in painful detail the treatment he was receiving for a tumor on the spine, Dave wanted to convey some universal truths to his loved ones.

"What do I want to say to you? I want to say to you, right now, tell the people who you love that you love them. Don't wait a minute. If they aren't here, call them. Don't let any small, petty bickering and disagreements with your family or friends be any bigger than they need to be.

"Go outside today or tomorrow and breathe, take everything in its wonder, in its perfection and imperfection.

"I long to do that myself. Joy is present everywhere even next to suffering. Say thank you for the simple things and give someone a hug."

David Smith, a specialist in organizational development, a consultant, a teacher, a world traveler and a loving husband and father, died Thursday. He was 60 and lived in West Mount Airy.

Over the years, business and pleasure took him all over the world, including Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

"He touched many lives in a wide array of nations and cultures," his family wrote in an obituary. "He loved life's challenges, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, hiked through the Himalayas, and ran in numerous marathons.

"During his illness, he continued to inspire those around him with his grace and courage while adjusting to paralysis in the midst of fighting cancer."

David was the principal of David Smith Associates. He was also a consultant at Critical Business Solutions and managing director and senior consultant at the Teleos Leadership Institute.

Earlier, he was director of organization and staff development at the Albert Einstein Healthcare Network, director of professional development at the University of Pennsylvania and manager of employment at the Federal Reserve Bank.

He also served on the faculty at Penn, Drexel and Arcadia universities.

David was born in Worcester, Mass., to Matthew and Adele Smith. He graduated in 1969 from Auburn High School, where he was captain of the basketball, cross country and track teams and was student council president.

He earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from Harvard University, a master's in educational media from Temple and doctorate in education from Penn.

He married Wanda Whitted-Smith in 1994.

David began his career as a social worker and special-education teacher. In the early '80s, he shifted to human resources and leadership and organizational development.

"His fascination with organizational culture and leadership have led to a wealth of experience and unique insights into the common dreams, challenges and life cycles shared by individuals and organizations around the world," his family wrote.

Besides his wife and parents, he is survived by two daughters, Sage and Chloe; a son, Luke; two brothers, Daniel and Stephen Smith; four sisters, Carolyn Smith, Melinda Hannan, Susan Smith-Scott and Judith Maruca; and a grandson, Jesse Hobbs.

Services: 11 a.m. Thursday at White Rock Baptist Church, 5240 Chestnut St. Friends may call at 9 a.m. A celebration of life service will be held at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the Bringhurst Funeral Home, 215 Belmont Ave., Bala Cynwyd. Visitation will begin at 5 p.m.

Memorial contributions may be made to Team David, Box 582, Charlton, Mass., 01507.

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