Here are just a few of the countless tributes to Robert W. Smith, one of my dearest friends. We will all miss him terribly.

Col. (Ret.) Thomas H. Palmatier
SBO+ Editor-in-Chief

Robert W. Smith; an innately gifted musician, a master teacher, a brilliant administrator, an intuitive-successful businessman, a loving husband and father, and – above all – a first-class individual reflecting the epitome of compassion and appreciation for his family, his friends and life overall.  He was a member of the elite “chosen few” who have a special magic they selflessly share with everyone:  Robert could light-up a room; his POSITIVE PRESENCE was recognized and felt by all.  His immeasurable contributions to our music world have touched all of us in some fashion.  With that one-of-a-kind legacy spotlighted, I think it pales-in-comparison to the richness of his personhood.  Robert’s treasured friendship was the ultimate gift he graciously extended to everyone.  Susan, Savannah, and Madison: We send our collective support-and-love in honor of Robert.  Rest in peace, my dearest friend, REST IN PEACE.

Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser
Sr. VP of Education, Conn-Selmer

I just don’t know where to begin. He was quite simply a giant in our profession and his legacy will never fade. He was also a trusted colleague and very dear friend. He was one of my principal sponsors in ABA. He loved Alabama Winds and everyone in the Alabama Winds family. He wrote the fanfare that we start every concert with and proudly anchored the third trumpet section for the past several years. When I took the job at UTC, he was one of my first calls to see if I could talk him into writing our marching band shows. He said yes instantly and has written all the music for the UTC marching band for the past three years. Like many of you, I will miss him tremendously. Sending my love to Susan, Savannah, and Madison. Rest well my friend. Rest well.

Prof. Randall Coleman
President, National Band Association

Robert was my friend for more than 30 years.  I first met him at a band festival at East Tennessee State University where we were both serving as clinicians.  As I watched him work with students, I knew there was something special about him.  Our professional paths crossed several times over the years, and my admiration for him and our friendship grew.  It was Robert who told me that the Director of the School of Music position would be open at Troy University.  He encouraged me to apply.  

It was an honor for me, as director of the John M. Long School of Music, to recommend that Troy University hire Robert as the first coordinator of the music industry program.  We worked together as colleagues for 16 years.  He approached each day with passion, vision, rigor, and kindness.  He was genuinely excited to be working at “the school he loved.”  

He was one of the finest teachers I have ever known.  More importantly, he was my trusted friend.  I am grateful.  And I will miss him.

Prof. Larry Blocher
Emeritus Professor at Troy University

Robert was a giant in our profession, and his impact on bands is, quite literally, incalculable. As I continue to read the many testimonials that are being offered on his behalf, I am struck by the range of his influence, and by the number of personal qualities people cite, such as musicianship, leadership, courage, stamina, kindness, loyalty, honor, friendship, and, of course, humor. I know many ABA members have experienced those qualities firsthand. We also know how much Robert enjoyed the ABA, and how he relished the opportunities this organization provided to strengthen old friendships as well as make new ones. We saw (and heard) firsthand his grace and humor as he did his best to marshal us in his role as Sergeant-at-Arms. We witnessed his indefatigable nature in his tireless efforts to spearhead the incredibly meaningful ABA Reflections project, an initiative that will undoubtedly prove to be invaluable for years to come. His work as a board member and, most recently, Vice President, was tireless, selfless, and most importantly, reflected his love and respect for our organization. To say he will be missed doesn’t begin to describe the loss the ABA has suffered with his passing. While I know this is already happening, I will ask that you please send your love and prayers to Susan, Savannah, and Madison, and that you keep the entire Smith family in your hearts.

Col. (Ret.) Michael Colburn
President, American Bandmasters Association

Robert was one of the most generous and gifted to walk the earth. Never once did he fail to help when asked. And I asked a lot. This one hurts. A lot. Heartfelt condolences to Susan, Savannah Cole, and Madison on your loss. Never was there a more devoted husband and father than Robert W. Smith. He was always so proud of you all and his face lit up when he spoke about each of you. I’m so very sorry.

Nola Scott Jones
Former Director of Educational Programs, Conn-Selmer

Robert W. Smith was more than a brilliant composer; he was a dear friend, mentor, and part of our extended family. From my time as his drum major at Troy University, we shared a close bond. His partnership with All National Music in launching the festival at Midwest in 2019 reflected his passion for nurturing young talent. My sincere condolences are with his family – Susan, Savannah, and Madison. As we continue Robert’s legacy, we aim to embody the true spirit of music in our festivals: unifying students, industry professionals, and composers. We aim to create a living legacy to honor his incredible gifts to music and music education.

Doug Brasell
All National Music Home of the Robert W. Smith Music Festival

We are saddened by the sudden passing of our dear friend, Robert W. Smith. He was a special member of the Universal family and helped shape our Sound Design: Music and the Art of Foley workshops into extraordinary experiences. His legacy will continue to live on through these impactful programs for our guests and students to enjoy.

Eric Marshall
Universal Destinations & Experiences

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