Mark T. Smylie, 70, executive

Mark T. Smylie
Mark T. Smylie
Posted: July 17, 2014

Mark T. Smylie, 70, of Pompano Beach, Fla., formerly of Center City, a security company executive who loved ice skating and the arts, died Friday, June 27, of a heart attack.

He had just finished lunch and was stricken while sitting in his car outside a Fort Lauderdale restaurant, said James D. Stoup, his former partner and present companion.

For 25 years, Mr. Smylie was president of Philadelphia-based General Security Systems Inc., a security guard provider and private detection agency. He retired and sold the business in 2005. Also a real estate investor, he owned and managed properties in Philadelphia.

Starting in the mid-1980s, he devoted himself to the arts. He left Philadelphia for a farm with donkeys in the Woodstock area of New York state. He studied at various times at the Woodstock School of Art, the Kingston School of Art, and the Fourth Street School of Art in New York City.

After a decade, he returned to Philadelphia and enrolled at the Barnes Foundation. He completed a three-year course of study and became a docent. "He loved that," said Stoup.

A prolific painter, Mr. Smylie was an abstract expressionist, taking subjects and interpreting them in an abstract way. He showed his work in upstate New York, New York City, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. His paintings are in private collections. In 1997, an oil painting he did of a woman in a turban was accepted by the Barnes for study purposes.

Mr. Smylie was born in Philadelphia of Ukrainian parents. He grew up in Wynnewood and attended Merion Elementary School and Bala Cynwyd Junior High before graduating from Lower Merion High School in 1961.

He attended Leicester Junior College in Worcester, Mass., and graduated from Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro. Mr. Smylie also did graduate work at Temple University.

Mr. Smylie was an international figure skating enthusiast, and he spent much of his adult life attending U.S. and world figure skating championships. He was a member of the Philadelphia Skating Club and Humane Society, Ardmore, where he had skated as a teenager.

He made many friends in the skating community; they accompanied him to competitions in Europe, Asia, and Canada.

Mr. Smylie retired to Pompano Beach in 2013. Stoup, who was with him, described his friend as "an extremely creative and dynamic person ... with a spirit so large and bright that it illuminated every room and space that he occupied."

"He was a very generous person, helping people in need, and treating his friends and loved ones to travel and art and theater, and the best that life has to offer," Stoup said.

In 1972, Mr. Smylie married Martha Johnson Smylie, who survives. His former partner, Eugene Heimers, died in 2011.

Surviving, besides his wife and companion, are a sister and another companion, Kenneth B. Layne.

A memorial service will be held in Philadelphia in the fall. Details are pending.

Donations may be made to the Philadelphia Skating Club and Humane Society, 220 Holland Ave., Ardmore, Pa. 19003.


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