Posted on: January 9, 2024
William Kyle Smith Jr. was born in Charlottesville, Va., in 1927; he enjoyed a happy childhood playing at the University where he would later attend medical school. His family moved to Annapolis, Md., in the late 1930’s so his father could help build the “Great Books” program at St. John’s College. “Bill” and “Billy,” as he was known to friends then, enjoyed life on the Spa and Severn Rivers and Chesapeake Bay, and even built a sailboat (with wood he bought from Fell’s Point in Baltimore) while attending St. John’s. His education at St. John’s impacted his entire life, as he continued to champion a liberal arts and universal education for all.
He was drafted into the U. S Army and came down with rheumatic heart fever during basic training. After being honorably discharged, he completed his education and was graduated from St. John’s in 1948. Before starting at The University of Virginia’s Medical School, he was required to take organic chemistry and other science classes at The University. It was there that he met Nancy Conway, who was attending UVA’s Nursing School. She became his devoted wife and staunchest supporter, during their 60+ years of marriage. After becoming Board certified in Internal Medicine, he practiced in Richmond for six years, before moving his family to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to train in cardiology at Women’s Medical College, where he became Board certified in Cardiology. He returned to Richmond in 1973 to be the first Head of Cardiology at Saint Mary’s Hospital. He oversaw St. Mary’s newly created Coronary Care Unit, built its Cardiac Graphics Dept., and (after visiting Orange County California in 1973 – home to the TV show Emergency), trained the first Cardiac Technicians in Richmond. In the 1970’s and 80s he helped St. Mary’s and Bon Secours become one of Richmond’s most respected Cardiology care and diagnosis unit.
He was a man who continued learning throughout his near century of life, enjoying music, photography, painting and astronomy. He loved the sea and the pristine beauty of Cape Hatteras which he cherished from childhood.
He lived out his days, cheerful and wise to the end, inspiring many by believing in the truth of the declaration that all are created equal. He trusted that the wisest know how little they know and remain open before the beauty and the complexity of the universe. He leaves behind his children Christopher (Aimee) and Dana (Nigel), his three grandchildren Porter, Shelby, and Peyton Smith, two great-grandsons (Steele and Kierin), two nieces (Debbie Bassett and Elizabeth King) whom he loved dearly, and their respective families.
His legacy of the pursuit of truth and beauty abides; he remains, beloved and respected by those who knew him.