In Memoriam: David M. Smith, Silviculture Expert and Former Manager of Yale Forests

David M. Smith, the Morris K. Jessup Professor Emeritus of Silviculture at the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES), died on March 7 at the Whitney Center in Hamden. He was 87.

After earning his Master of Forestry in 1946 from F&ES and his Ph.D. in 1949 from Yale, Smith spent almost his entire career teaching at the University. Throughout the years, he was an associate dean and manager of the Yale Forests, and he served in many other University and civic capacities.

Smith authored the world’s most widely used forestry textbook, “The Practice of Silviculture,” which has been released in four editions and in several translations. He also wrote numerous research papers and commentaries on forestry practices. He was responsible for obtaining a Hartford Foundation grant in the mid-1950s that added many natural science faculty positions to F&ES. In the early 1970s he was a silvicultural consultant to a U.S. presidential advisory panel on timber and the environment. He also served as an adviser to the U.S. Forest Service and to government agencies in Australia and British Columbia.

Born in Bryan, Texas, Smith grew up in Kingston, Rhode Island, and received his B.A. from the University of Rhode Island in 1941. Before coming to Yale for graduate work, he was a meteorologist in the U.S. Army during World War I.

Smith was a fellow in the New England branch of the Society of American Foresters, which twice honored him with its Distinguished Service Award, in 1969 and 1993. American Forests also presented him with its Distinguished Service Award in 1990. For four decades, Smith was either a director or president of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association and of Connwood Foresters, the nation’s oldest forest land­owners’ cooperative. He was on the Connecticut Forest Practices Advisory Board during the 1990s and was for many years a director of the Hamden Land Conservation Trust.

Smith’s other honors include honorary degrees from the University of Rhode Island and from Bates College in Maine.

Smith is survived by is wife of nearly 58 years, Catherine; two daughters, Ellen and Nancy; a grandson, Karl Norby; and a brother, Allen.

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