Story Magazine - Winter, 2011

William A. Smith 1925-2010

by Laura Kaslow, Communication Specialist

The Rev. William A. Smith, '68 and '54, Luther Seminary professor emeritus of pastoral care, died Aug. 26 in St. Paul. He was 85. Smith was interred in Luther Seminary's Garden of the Resurrection on Oct. 3.

Smith served as professor of pastoral care from 1971-1995. He came to Luther Seminary in 1970 as a student counselor before joining the faculty.

Smith is remembered as a spiritual director for many church leaders, as well as a listening ear and centering spirit for those in need of "soul care," as he called it. In 2005, Smith received Luther Seminary's Christus Lux Mundi award, the seminary's most distinguished honor, for his work in spiritual care with seminary students.

"In the quiet of his basement office in Bockman Hall, Bill Smith transformed generations of church leaders through his commitment to spiritual formation," said President Richard Bliese. "This took concrete form through his own gifts of theological curiosity, acumen for teaching, love of students, concern for pastors—especially those in marriages—and, finally, his commitment to prayer and contemplation.

Smith earned both the Bachelor of Divinity (1954) and Master of Theology (1968) degrees from Luther Theological Seminary. He was director of pastoral counseling at Wilder Clinic in St. Paul from 1971-74, and director of community care resources and associate director of training with the Wilder Foundation from 1974-78. In 1973 he developed the Befriender program, a lay training program established to equip laity to assist in the pastoral care ministry of their congregations.

Former student of Smith, and Luther Seminary board member, Blair Anderson, '74, said, "I have been blessed by friendship with this man for close to 40 years—first as a professor, then as my CPE supervisor and most importantly as my spiritual director. Bill's tenure was exemplary. His eclectic spirit allowed him to draw from many disciplines as he taught hundreds of students the art of pastoral care.

"Bill was a man of grace. He lived with an endearing demeanor of humility and gratitude. He possessed a quiet confidence in whom and whose he was. Life for Bill was a journey and heaven his home."