Friday, October 08, 2010

About my Dad: In Memoriam

Dr. Thomas W. Smoot, 77, of Valdosta, died October 6 of traumatic aorta rupture. 

He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, May 11, 1933.  He graduated from Walnut Hills High School, a nationally recognized public college preparatory school.  He received his undergraduate degrees from Miami University, and his PhD in clay mineralogy from the University of Illinois.  He married Frances Lee Maier June 6, 1955.

A scientist and inventor, Tom is named on ten US patents from 1963 to 2010, most recently for a fire-retardant material.  For Canada’s Geological Survey, Tom explored unmapped territory in 1957.   He was a pioneer in developing ceramics to withstand extreme temperatures in nuclear propulsion engines.  His expertise made him a valuable representative for corporations Harbison-Walker in Pittsburgh, Nalco in Chicago, and Glasrock in Atlanta.
An entrepreneur, Tom purchased a chemical manufacturing business in Atlanta in 1972 with no full-time employees.  Through hard times and a catastrophic fire in 1982, Tom grew the business, re-naming it Kor-Chem.  By 2001, when he sold the company, it employed dozens of workers and had international partners.

In retirement, Tom stayed active. He started a new business relating to his latest patent.  He served on boards for his neighborhood in Atlanta and for his high school’s Alumni Foundation, and he ran for Valdosta’s school board.  Tom and Frances joined First Presbyterian Church of Valdosta in 2009, and he became deeply involved as Deacon, treasurer of the Men’s Bible Study, member of the Church’s Vestry, and tenor in the choir.

His work with his son Todd’s company Get Active gave him the opportunity to combine his talent for sales with his passion for running.   Tom and Frances competed in road races as recently as 2009, and walked daily.   From 1973 onward, Tom counted the miles he ran, logging over 38,000 miles by 2010, in cities from Atlanta to Cairo, literally “running around the world” one-and-a-half times. 

He is survived by his wife Frances of Valdosta; Kim Ann Carter of Hampton, GA; W. Scott Smoot of Marietta, GA; and Todd Lee Smoot of Valdosta. He is also survived by two grandchildren. 

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