Smithwick Genealogy

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Dr. Robert Clark Smithwick

Dr. Robert Clark Smithwick[1, 2, 3]

Male 1920 - 2013  (92 years)

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  • Name Robert Clark Smithwick 
    Title Dr. 
    Nickname Bob 
    Born 21 Dec 1920  OR, US Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 22 Mar 2013  Los Altos Hills, CA, US Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried Alta Mesa Memorial Park, Palo Alto, Santa Clara County, CA, US Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I1367  Smithwick Family Tree | Smithwicks in the US
    Last Modified 4 Jun 2016 

    Father Richard Allen Smithwick,   b. 17 Feb 1895, OR, US Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Dec 1982, Sun City, Maricopa, AZ, US Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 87 years) 
    Mother Catheryn Clair Clark,   b. 1896, WA, US Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married 4 Jun 1918  Walla Walla, WA, US Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F470  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Aileen Lois Russell,   b. 30 Nov 1918,   d. 2003, Los Altos Hills, CA, US Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 84 years) 
     1. Living
     2. Living
    Last Modified 3 Jun 2016 
    Family ID F472  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    Dr. Robert C. Smithwick
    Dr. Robert C. Smithwick
    At least one living or private individual is linked to this item - Details withheld.

    Dr. Robert C. and Aileen Lois (Russell) Smithwick - gravestone
    Dr. Robert C. and Aileen Lois (Russell) Smithwick - gravestone
    In Loving Memory
    Aileen Smithwick RN
    1918 - 2003
    Beloved Wife, Mother, Sister
    and Friend

    Robert C. Smithwick, DDS
    1920 - 2013
    Robert dedicated his life to serving others
    Beloved by all, he will be deeply missed.

  • Notes 

  • Sources 
    1. [S4] United States Census, 1930, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA),

    2. [S126] Obituary - Dr. Robert C. Smithwick, (Los Altos Patch),
      Robert Smithwick Memorial Service Set For April 19

      The 2 p.m. service for the 'Father of Foothill-DeAnza College District' will be held at his namesake theater.

      Los Altos, CA
      By L.A. CHUNG (Patch Staff) - May 7, 2013 4:21 pm ET

      Expecting big crowds for the public memorial service to Robert C. Smithwick, organizers have turned to what is probably the most appropriate venue for the occasion?Foothill College's Smithwick Theater.

      A public celebration for the life of the "Father of Foothill-DeAnza College District" is scheduled for Friday, April 19, at 2 p.m. in the Smithwick Theatre.

      Dr. Smithwick passed away in his sleep on March 22 at the age of 92 in his home overlooking the college in Los Altos Hills.

      He was a founding trustee of what was first called the Foothill Junior College District, chairman of its first publicly elected board in 1957, and served for nearly 35 years, according to the Foothill-DeAnza College District.

      He also served several terms on the board of the Fremont Union High School District while living in Sunnyvale, where he practiced pediatric dentistry for many years. After living in Los Altos for several years, the Smithwick family moved to Los Altos Hills in the mid-1960s, into a home overlooking Foothill College.

      Dr. Smithwick is survived by his children, Cathye and Mike. Aileen, his wife of 60 years, preceded him in death in 2003.

      He is credited with shaping the college district in its early years and embedding values that are found in the colleges that are found today. Dr. Smithwick had remained active in the major activities of the college district up until the last years of his life, attending graduations and tenure receptions.

      "His family and the Foothill-De Anza Community College District welcome all who knew Dr. Smithwick to gather in his namesake theater at Foothill College to honor his memory," said a statement announcing the public memorial. The usual parking fee for the college's parking lot will be waived for those attending the memorial service, it added.

      The Foothill-De Anza Community College District serves residents of Palo Alto, Stanford, Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Cupertino, Sunnyvale and parts of San Jose.

      Memorial donations in his name may be made to:

      The Foothill-De Anza Foundation, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills, CA 94022 (or

      The Palo Alto Rotary Annual Charities of the Rotary Club of Palo Alto, P.O. Box 592, Palo Alto, CA 94302 (

    3. [S127] Dr. Robert C. Smithick - obituary, (Palo Alto Online),
      Robert Smithwick
      1921-March 22, 2013
      Los Altos Hills, California

      Robert Smithwick, a founder of Foothill College who served as a trustee for nearly 35 years, died on March 22 at his home in Los Altos Hills. He was 92.

      Smithwick was a young dentist in Los Altos in 1956 when he attended early planning meetings for a "junior college," convened by then-Palo Alto School Superintendent Henry M. Gunn.

      He chaired the original elected board of trustees of Foothill, which was built with funds from a $10.4 million bond issue passed in May 1958. Smithwick, who maintained a dentistry practice in Sunnyvale until 1983, was until recently a regular presence at college events. Dick Henning, who founded the Celebrity Forum Speakers Series in the 1960s (now at Flint Center at De Anza College), said Smithwick rarely missed a speaker and typically sent a hand-written note afterwards with comments on the talk.

      "He had this brown paper and small brown envelopes, just for thank-you notes," Henning recalled Monday. "It's so rare to get hand-written notes these days. He always had a comment and he was always so positive." Smithwick said in a 2008 interview that early planners expected Foothill's enrollment would top out at 6,000. Today's enrollment at Foothill and its sister institution, De Anza College, is more than 40,000. "We were certainly surprised at the demand and glad we were able to meet it in most ways," he said in the 2008 interview with the Weekly.

      "People didn't understand much in those days about junior colleges. We wanted to prove to them that we could be as good or better than any of the good four-year schools in terms of quality of education.

      "Today people take it for granted, but in those days a lot of high school seniors didn't even think about going to college. They just went to work.

      "We wanted to encourage them to go to college."

      Henning said Smithwick was fond of a quote from the Roman orator Cicero: "What greater or better gift can we offer the republic than to teach and instruct our youth." Smithwick, whose father was a minister and missionary, spent his young boyhood in India.

      After the family returned to the United States, Smithwick moved through eighth grade in six years, high school in three years and university in three years, according to his family.

      He graduated from what is now Andrews University in Michigan and the University of Illinois Dental School.

      He was married for 60 years to Aileen Lois Russell, who died in 2002. Among his survivors are a daughter Cathye and a son Michael, both of San Jose. He also is survived by his sister-in-law Elizabeth Oswald of Dinuba and his grand-nephew Scott Smithwick of San Jose.