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  • Richard A. "Dick" Smith

    1924 – 2020

    Richard A. Smith

    It is with tremendous sadness that we share the news of the death of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Trustee Richard A. "Dick" Smith.

    For much of Dana-Farber's history, Dick was at the heart of its significant growth, having served on the Board of Trustees since 1962. Over the ensuing decades, he was a respected and valued member of multiple committees and groups, including the Trustee Committee on Science, the Trustee Governance Committee, and Dana-Farber/Partners Cancer Care Board of Trustees. Dick was President of the Institute from 1973-1978 and its Chairman from 1979-1981. In 2014, he was named a Distinguished Trustee.

    When Dick joined the Dana-Farber community, he was following in the footsteps of his late father, Philip Smith. Three generations have served on the Dana-Farber Board: Philip Smith, Dick Smith, and Dick's daughter Amy Smith Berylson. Dick's wife, Susan "Sue" Flax Smith, who died in 2016, was also a longtime Trustee. The Susan F. Smith Center for Women's Cancers at Dana-Farber, which opened in 2011, was named in her honor.

    Dick and Sue were the Institute's largest individual donors. Their generosity spanned decades, including Dick's recent major gift to Dana-Farber's Emergency Response Fund in 2020 and, in 2018, as one of the early donors to the Institute's comprehensive campaign, currently in its quiet phase. In 2006, Sue and Dick directed a transformational gift to support the construction of the Yawkey Center for Cancer Care.

    Their generosity as benefactors of Dana-Farber included establishing and supporting the Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Research Laboratories. The proximity of those labs to the Susan F. Smith Center promotes translational research that converts scientific advances and accelerates new treatments for patients — a prime example of the Institute's balanced focus on research innovation and care, a dual commitment that Dick championed.

    With his wife, Dick also established the Richard and Susan Smith Professorship at Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber in 1984, a position always held by the President and CEO of Dana-Farber. In the decades that followed, the Smiths supported many other projects, such as the Susan F. Smith Center Living Biobank, and they created several awards to recognize excellence in research.

    Many of their grants and gifts were made through the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation, established by Dick and Sue in 1970. Today, several of their children and grandchildren are among its active trustees, stewarding grants aimed at promoting greater health, educational attainment, and economic mobility in Greater Boston.

    Dick's diverse and successful career was matched only by his remarkable generosity in giving back to communities in need. His exceptional legacy will serve Dana-Farber, especially our patients and families, for generations to come.

    Dick was unwavering in his dedication to our lifesaving mission, motivated by the progress he saw at Dana-Farber. In the fall 2018 issue of the Institute's Impact newsletter, Dick said, "Over more than 50 years of involvement with Dana-Farber, I have seen firsthand the amazing strides in cancer treatment brought about by brilliant researchers and clinicians."