TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida A&M University mourns the loss of Dr. Walter L. Smith, the University’s seventh president and president emeritus. Dr. Smith died in Tampa on Thursday, November 25, 2021. He was 86.
President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., issued the following statement on hearing the news.
“I was saddened to learn of the passing today of Florida A&M University’s seventh President and President Emeritus Walter L. Smith, Ph.D. Dr. Smith left an indelible mark as the University’s leader from 1977 to 1985, developing new academic programs and steering FAMU in the right direction,” said Robinson, FAMU’s 12th President. “We’re thankful for his leadership and celebrate his legacy and join the Smith family, friends and Rattlers around the world in celebrating a life dedicated to service and one well lived.”
Commissioner Bill Proctor also gave his condolences in the following statement released Friday afternoon:
"I join members of our community who are saddened by the loss of Dr. Walter Smith, FAMU's late president. The major infrastructure improvements under Dr. Smith's tenure as FAMU’s president will remain self-evident long into the future. Dr. Smith was a superb orator and brilliant storyteller. His spellbinding command of meticulous historic details made him a walking encyclopedia. His books and writings, especially on Florida's Historic Black Community College system and his work abroad in Africa are timeless contributions worth reviewing. His presence at Bethel AME Church will also be missed. He was engaging, articulate, insightful, and always ready to debate an array of topics. Conversationally, you had to always bring your “A” game and be ready to hold your own with Dr. Smith. Words and thoughts flowed endlessly through the channels of his well-constructed cognitive center. Sitting through a football game and disagreeing with Dr. Smith was the ultimate hoot of a lifetime. He could have been the world's leading color commentator equaled by no one! We have treasured and benefited from his confidence, savvy, and vision. May God, therefore, bless his family with calming grace and healing mercies. Amen"
Funeral services for Dr. Smith will be held 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec.11 at Allen Temple AME Church, 2101 N. Lowe St., Tampa, Florida. FAMU will host a memorial service at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 15 at the Al Lawson Multipurpose Center, 1800 Wahnish Way.