The reporting profession lost one its greats on August 13 when Richard (Dick) Smith passed away after a lengthy illness. Richard was born September 20, 1922, in the tiny farming community of Morning Sun, Iowa, population 600. A child of the Depression, he always remembered his roots and vowed his family would never have to suffer the poverty that he did. When World War II came along, he enlisted in the Navy and was assigned a position in Washington, D.C. He then decided to enroll in court reporting school at Strayer College. There, he met his first wife, Casey. “He walked into my high-speed class, and it was love at first sight,” was her fond remembrance of that first meeting. Six weeks later, on Palm Sunday in 1946, he asked for her hand in marriage, and they were married in August of that year in Bristol, Tenn.
They then moved to Chattanooga and opened up the freelance firm of Smith Reporting Agency. Through the years, this dynamic husband-wife team worked tirelessly for the betterment of the profession. He obtained his Certificate of Proficiency and Certificate of Merit, and he was also a Speed Contest Qualifier. From the beginning of his career, Richard was always a staunch supporter of court reporting organizations. He cofounded the Tennessee Court Reporters Association and became its president. When he was appointed an official reporter in Federal Court in Chattanooga, he joined the United States Court Reporter Association. He represented the Sixth Circuit for many years and ascended to its presidency in 1967. With NCRA, then known as NSRA, he served on and chaired many committees. As president in 1973-1974, he led the association in fighting some of its fiercest battles against the looming threat of electronic recording in courtrooms. He was honored for all of his hard work with the Distinguished Service Award. Along with his wife, Casey, he was inducted as a Founding Fellow of the Academy of Professional Reporters in 1975.
Many family dinnertimes were spent in spirited conversations surrounding the subject of court reporting, as well as fine points of law, grammar, and punctuation. He had a deep love and curiosity of life, learning, and travel. For many summers, the family vacations consisted of going to the yearly NCRA conventions. Miami, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Houston were cities we visited. They spoke affectionately about their fellow colleagues, and we knew them on a first-name basis for many years: Vivien, Doris, Mary Louis, Sally, Rachel, Ray, Marty, Irving, Sal, Nat, Judy, Woody, Bill, Jay, Mary, and so many others, now all known as giants among giants in the court reporting field.
What will be missed most in Richard’s passing is his professionalism, his sense of honesty and integrity, his utmost fairness in treating all of the reporters who worked for him, and his desire not only to be the best himself, but encouraging others to bring out their highest potential, as well. He always had great passion for and a deep commitment to this profession. Today, I am proud to be standing tall on his shoulders for all that he accomplished and to also call him my father.
Christine B. Smith, RPR
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