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In memoriam: Howard A. Smith

In memoriam: Howard A. Smith

Howard A. Smith, professor emeritus, educational psychology, died April 24, two weeks prior to his 72nd birthday.

[Grant Hall stained-glass windows image]

Howard was born in Ottawa, but he was raised in the pastoral landscape of the Eastern Townships of Quebec.

From an early education in Fitch Bay, Beebe, and Stanstead, Howard progressed to wide-ranging studies from science and mathematics at the University of New Brunswick, to a teacher education program at McGill University, to doctoral work in educational psychology at the University of Toronto.

He joined the Queen’s Faculty of Education in 1971 and became a dedicated professor with research interests in human learning, non-verbal communication, and semiotics.

Howard published widely in respected international journals and served one term as Associate Dean in the early ‘90s. Two publications, Psychosemiotics (2001) and Teaching Adolescents: Educational Psychology as a Science of Signs (2007) exemplify Howard’s major theoretical and practical contributions to his field.

[photo of Howard Smith]
Howard A. Smith

Even beyond retirement in 2008, Howard is remembered fondly by students and colleagues alike as a fine scholar, caring mentor, and committed teacher. Colleagues wrote:

Let me express my sorrow at the loss of a good friend and fine man of exceptional integrity. He will live on in my thoughts and in the minds of his many students by whom he was so well liked.
~ Dr. David Pratt

Howard was particularly helpful to me in his role as Associate Dean. His balanced and reasoned thinking … gave us great leaderships at that time … He was among the group of senior faculty who stressed the importance of scholarship and community, hand in hand. It is a value I tried to perpetuate throughout my career.
~ Dr. Lyn M. Shulha

I wish I had the words to tell you what a deep impact Howard had on me, not only because of his personal kindnesses, but because of the great dignity and integrity with which he conducted his work at Queen’s. I considered him one of my most important mentors. It was lovely to see him in the fall at a South Frontenac meeting, and to hear his insightful questions— his ever Howard way, I thought to myself, not knowing that it would be the last conversation we would share. I will miss him.
~ Dr. Rena Upitis

Several colleagues and friends paid tribute to Howard’s life and legacy at the Celebration of Life held on June 28 at the Donald Gordon Conference Centre.

Colleague Dr. Lars Thompson drew parallels between Howard’s love of hockey and his interest in “hands-on learners — even hockey players. And that is the way I got to know [Howard] as the steady and reliable person he was.”

Dr. William Higginson (who presided over the spoken tributes) talked about Howard as a fine colleague and friend — the “quintessential Canadian” in his kindness to people and the natural world.

And Howard lived his motto, from Charles Sanders Peirce, “Do not block the way of inquiry,” in his respect for many ways of knowing.

Colleague Dr. Glenn Eastabrook shared the following:

Howard became an amazing colleague and friend to me through  our workings at Queen’s Education Faculty. He was always there to listen, to support but never to criticize…never to judge…

One graduate student summed up Howard’s uniqueness in his M.Ed. thesis acknowledgements:

To my teacher, Dr. Howard Smith: Thank you so much for your support throughout my time in the program;…please know that in quiet moments I have returned to our conversations and will continue to learn from you in the years to come.

Howard A. Smith, professor emeritus, educational psychology, died April 24, two weeks prior to his 72nd birthday. He is greatly missed by family, friends, students, and colleagues.

Karin G. Steiner, PhD
17 July 2015

Dr. Steiner is the widow of Dr. Howard A.Smith.

[cover of Queen's Alumni Review 2015 Issue 3]