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SMITH, Derald Glen

June 18, 1939 – June 18, 2014

Derald Glen Smith of Calgary, beloved husband of Nancy (married 1970), passed away in Agape Hospice of cancer on June 18, 2014 at age 75 years, surrounded by family and friends.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by half-sister Deena Zachritz (daughter Denise Gonzalez [Arnie] and granddaughter Alexis) of Jackson, CA; niece Maureen Ammondson (husband Greg, son Zoe) of the Missoula area, MT; nephew Patrick Foley (wife Amy, sons Kell and Colin) of Seattle; grand nephew and niece Bryan and Jennifer Foley and brother-in–law Robert Jones of Missoula. He was predeceased by his sister Hazel Foley, mother Elsie Culver, father Les Smith, and nephew Kevin Foley.

Derald’s half-century career included 35 years teaching at the University of Calgary prior to his 2006 retirement. Born in Polson, Montana, Derald completed BA and MA degrees at the University of Montana at Missoula (1965 and 1966) before becoming a faculty member at Southern Colorado University, Pueblo (1966-67). He moved on to graduate studies at McGill University (1967-68) and the Johns Hopkins University (1968-71) leading to a PhD from Johns Hopkins University in 1973. Derald earned an international reputation as the leading authority on anastomosing rivers – a distinct type of multi-channeled and stable river pattern found in low-gradient conditions such as deltas, but also for his pioneering work on ground-penetrating radar. His research has had a wide impact on numerous fields including ecology, biology, water management, engineering, geophysics and environmental protection. Derald was awarded the Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s 2014 Massey Medal by Alberta Lieutenant-Governor Donald Ethell. Established in 1959 by the Massey Foundation, the Massey Medal is awarded annually by the Society to recognize outstanding career achievement in the exploration, development or description of the geography of Canada. After his university retirement, he set up Derald G. Smith Consulting Ltd and continued to research and consult for national and international oil and gas companies. Alpine skiing was always his passion, along with playing the banjo, roller-blading, kayaking, and hiking. After leaving university teaching he joined the Alberta Masters Ski Club, carving up the slopes in national and international races, resulting in his selection for the Canadian Masters National Team. He was named CTV Calgary Athlete of the Week, February 24, 2012. In addition, he was a long-time leader in the Alberta 55 Plus Winter Games. His motto, demonstrated vividly by his accomplishments, was always to “seize life while you’re still vertical.” He was “so grateful that I was able to help and mentor so many students in a way that has contributed to their lives being extraordinarily productive and rich.”

A Private Celebration of Derald’s Life will be held later this month. Condolences may be forwarded to Derald will be deeply missed by countless students, colleagues, family and friends. In memory of Derald, please donate, online or by mail, to the Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma Research Foundation (ACCRF) ( P.O. Box 442, Needham, MA, USA 02494.

In living memory of Derald Smith a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Alison Wiigs :

    Nancy, I’m sorry to hear that Derald passed away. But what a great life he led!

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  2. Dawn Hermann :

    I often think of Derald, The University of Calgary Palliser Club, and his geography courses since I moved to live and work in an area that he led so many field trips to. His teaching and his amazing energy bounding up and down hills, mountains, ice fields, badlands, etc. and examining river morphology with his”hands-on” demonstrations, have stuck with me since those long ago days in the 70’s (including the banjo around the campfire). My sincere condolences to his family, he was a wonderful man. Dawn (Kessler) Hermann

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  3. Tom Swaddle :

    Derald is much missed. In addition to our frequent lunch-table discussions of matters academic, scientific, and otherwise at the University of Calgary over many years, I recall fondly time spent together on the ski slopes. In recent years, Derald was an active member of the Seniors’ Alpine Ski Club, and was largely responsible for organizing the Club’s very successful ski racing training program. He was immensely enthusiastic and supremely competent in all his endeavours, scientific and sporting.

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  4. Sue Godfrey :

    Derald was so energetic, competent, generous and inspiring. A guru dispensing knowledge, life skills and philosophic advice all in the same conversation. He led his geography field trips that way and there was always play and humor added in. I’m so grateful that our paths crossed.
    My heartfelt condolences to Nancy, his family and many friends.

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  5. I’m so sorry to hear of Dr. Smith’s passing. I was a student of his in 2000 and LOVED both courses he taught. Field school with him was amazing, he marched up the glaciers so fast no one could keep up with him. He was fun. My condolences to Dr. Smith’s family.

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