Loving husband, father, land conservation visionary, land trust founder and president, national advocate in search of a cure for FSH muscular dystrophy, attorney, kind man who had an uncanny ability to inspire smiles with his dry sense of humor…
These are just some of the ways we think of Bob.
Robert F. Smith (Bob), Founding Trustee & President of Harwich Conservation Trust (HCT) passed away on April 7, 2015 (born Dec. 8, 1947, son of Ruth & Russell Smith, in Lawrence, MA). He is survived by his devoted wife of 46 years, Patti, son Luis, brothers Stephen & David as well as many loving family members and friends.
Bob was widely respected for his vision and guidance that established the Harwich Conservation Trust (HCT) as well as his knowledge, expertise and experience in real estate law.
But it was his strength of character and resilience that truly inspired.
He lived with F.S.H. muscular dystrophy, but it didn’t deter or dampen his land preservation spirit. Bob led his life with chin up, dignity, grace and quick wit, and never, ever complained about the disability that limited his mobility.
In fact, he pushed onward in leading HCT to preserve hundreds of acres, many of which offer walking trails that he never set foot on. He experienced great pride and satisfaction in providing these outdoor opportunities for all who could enjoy the scenic views and solitude, providing places where wildlife can roam freely, providing protection for ponds and Pleasant Bay, providing a future of clean land, air and water.
He was not just a Founding Trustee on the board, but the Founding Trustee that started it all.
Bob was the first and only HCT President since he helped create the Cape’s youngest land trust back in 1988.
Here is a tribute to him when he received the Ansel B. Chaplin Award for Excellence in Preserving Open Space on Cape Cod in 2013 from The Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts, Inc.:
Robert F. Smith founded the Harwich Conservation Trust 25 years ago in 1988, the most recent land trust on the Cape. A born and bred Cape Codder, Bob has diligently served as the only President the HCT has known, somehow managing to fit in a busy law practice on the side. The HCT has thrived owing to the team chemistry that Bob envisioned long ago and he continues to inspire that still. He creates a team of professionals and volunteers that know how to achieve goals with excellence in outcome and kindness in process. The HCT has preserved more than 450 acres since its founding, been supported by 900 members and donors, has instituted the best educational series of walks and talks on the environment, recruited dozens of passionate land steward volunteers, established a visible headquarters staffed with well-trained professionals and established itself as a force for conservation in the community.
Bob wouldn’t want us to spend too much time in sorrow. He would want us to celebrate his life along with the special places that he helped all of us preserve together through HCT.
Reflect on the photo above of intrepid Bob (he’s seated in the middle, on the rock culvert that runs beneath Rt. 28) and his brothers fishing for feisty blue crabs in the Monomoy River (Muddy Creek) circa 1950s before it became polluted with too much nitrogen from too many houses in the watershed. We featured this photo many times in our 2001-2003 fundraising effort for the acreage that would become known as the D. Isabel Smith Monomoy River Conservation Lands (Isabel being a Founding HCT Trustee and dear friend of Bob’s).
And looking ahead . . . thanks to Bob, Isabel, their fellow Trustees past and present, HCT donors & supporters, all of us in the HCT family . . . that river with its blue crabs and blue herons and chattering kingfishers with ospreys overhead has a chance at recovery, has a chance to again become a place of exploration and discovery for future generations. He instilled hope for a better tomorrow by protecting land and water today.
Thank you, Bob, for your strength, wisdom, and enduring land preservation spirit.