ForeverMissed
Dr. Alonzo Smith age 79, of Washington DC passed away on March 5th from complications of AML Leukemia.  He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Susan, his daughter Marie and his son Alex.  He also leaves behind his cousins Shirley Smith Palmer, Judi Blue of Philadelphia and so many other extended family members and friends.

In lieu of flowers, the family would like you to please make a Donation to the Maryland Poor People’s Campaign below:

Just click the Donate link under Donate to MD PPC.

https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/committee/maryland/

Thank you,

-Alex

Alonzo Smith lead his life in service to others, a believer in the worth of all human beings, a peaceful advocate for social justice, and most importantly as a messenger of LOVE.

He viewed himself as a global citizen.  His philosophy of life was that all human beings on this earth are as Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Born free and equal in dignity and rights.

He was an only son, born to pediatrician Alonzo Nelson Smith and teacher/activist Marie Wright Smith.  He was a child of the District.  He grew up in segregated DC.  Both of his parents were mixed.  His mother was so light she ‘passed’ for white.  His father was light skinned but visibly black.  He would tell us stories that he could go to pools and restaurants with his Mother but not his father.  His mother had to go to the bank without his father just to get approved for the mortgage on their home in Columbia Heights.

He left DC to attend high school in West Chester, PA at the Quaker school Westtown. He will always be remembered by his black rimmed glasses, his camera in hand, and his slender frame.  His class of 1958 became so close throughout their lives that they still get together each year in West Chester to reunite.

He attended undergrad at Georgetown, received an MBA from Howard University and a Doctorate from UCLA in African American Studies.

Alonzo loved to teach history.  He became a college professor at a number of institutions.  His students marveled as he could teach without notes.  At Clairmont College in California, my mom recalls him conducting his lectures with smoking pipe in hand.

In the middle of his Career he landed his dream job at The Smithsonian National Museum of American History as curator and research analyst.  His signature project was co-curator on the exhibit “Seperate But Equal” to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Brown Vs Board of Education.

After a long ride, he found his home at the end of his career as a college professor at Montgomery College in Rockville.  He taught African American History, American History, and his favorite, a class on Human Rights that he co-taught with Layla Hashemi.

He put his beliefs into action with so many important humanitarian causes.  He was one of the first members of the Peace Corps where he taught in The Ivory Coast, spent a year in war torn Sierra Leone with Africare providing aid.  He was active with The UUCR Social Justice Committee, The Montgomery County Lynching Project, and most recently helped build the The Montgomery County MD group of The Poor Peoples Campaign.

He was also a proud member of the Unitarian Universalist Church is Rockville for over 20 years.

He lead an accomplished career but if he were here, he’d say his greatest accomplishment was finding and marrying my mother, his Susie, and loving her for 44 years.  He could always be seen holding her hand, rubbing her shoulder, kissing her, and smiling at her.  He taught us all how to love. 

We should all live by the words he once wrote in a book of poems gifted to my mom.

“May you always see beauty and feel Love.”

We will ALWAYS love you Dad.

Services will be scheduled at a later date following guidelines around COVID19.

As we all wait to meet in person to celebrate his life and for always, we ask you to share your stories of Al at the Stories link above.  This way, he lives in our hearts and can never ever truly leave this world.




Posted by Nik Sushka on March 27, 2020
Alonzo was an inspiration for how to live a life well. He reached out to me very early in my career at MC, and we collaborated on a number of initiatives together. Most recently, I saw Alonzo marching in the Gaithersburg Labor Day parade with the Poor People's Campaign, and thanked him for all the he does for our community. I'm sad his light has gone out, but I know he'll continue to shine through others for decades to come. Much love to his family and colleagues.
Posted by Greg Malveaux on March 25, 2020
I have so many fond memories with Alonzo and Susan. Our deep friendship blossomed on the overseas programs with MC study abroad--especially the experiences in Cuba. The presence of Alonzo and Susan made these programs incredibly special for me (like having family present) and everyone present. You both are so positive, informed, generous, kind, loving, and open-minded. I cannot put into words the admiration and adoration I have for Alonzo. He was an amazing colleague, but even more, a most valued friend. My family and I will truly miss you. Our heartfelt prayers go out to Susan, Marie and Alex.
Posted by Karissa Silver on March 24, 2020
I always admired Alonzo Smith for his knowledge, intelligence, wit, and friendliness. I enjoyed traveling around Turkey with him and his sweet wife Sue. My condolences to his family.
RIP Alonzo, you will be missed.
Posted by Brenda Williams on March 24, 2020
My heartfelt condolences; Dr. Smith was a valued and loved colleague at MC!

RIP

Dr. Brenda Williams
Posted by Alex Smith on March 23, 2020
Thank you so much Layla for your words and stories. The dynamic and relationship between you two was so unique. He truly saw himself in you and I believe he saw how he could live his beliefs through you. I look forward to seeing how he will influence so many future students using you as a vessel. Our family loves you so much Layla. They truly don’t make them like him anymore.
Posted by Layla M. Hashemi on March 23, 2020
Thank you, Alex Smith for creating such a beautiful memorial for an incredible human being. I always felt so lucky to call Alonzo Smith my friend, colleague and comrade. He was very dear to me and I will forever miss him.

My condolences and love to Sue Smith, Alex Smith, Marie Smith and all of Alonzo's friends and family. Alonzo always had an interesting story to tell and he always found a way to make you smile (even in difficult times). His curiosity and fierce activism were contagious. I know I am not the only one who will miss having long discussions about history and politics with him.

Alonzo inspired me as an activist and a scholar. I will always cherish the quality time we had together. We were so proud the day our class on Global Human Rights was approved as a course offering at Montgomery College because we both knew it was such an important topic. I am so grateful that his vision will live on through his work and teaching, inspiring others to become global citizens and promote social justice.

I was a new political science adjunct when I met Alonzo, the seasoned full time history professor, nearly 10 years ago. He took me under his wing, introduced me to the Peace and Justice Community, and we were best pals ever since. I think it even became a running joke that the oldest and youngest people in the department were always hanging out together :) He gave such thoughtful advice and was always willing to help. A colleague recently said it best, they don't make them like him much any more. I will do my best to keep his humor, warmth, love of life and unwavering commitment to peace & justice alive.

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Recent Tributes
Posted by Nik Sushka on March 27, 2020
Alonzo was an inspiration for how to live a life well. He reached out to me very early in my career at MC, and we collaborated on a number of initiatives together. Most recently, I saw Alonzo marching in the Gaithersburg Labor Day parade with the Poor People's Campaign, and thanked him for all the he does for our community. I'm sad his light has gone out, but I know he'll continue to shine through others for decades to come. Much love to his family and colleagues.
Posted by Greg Malveaux on March 25, 2020
I have so many fond memories with Alonzo and Susan. Our deep friendship blossomed on the overseas programs with MC study abroad--especially the experiences in Cuba. The presence of Alonzo and Susan made these programs incredibly special for me (like having family present) and everyone present. You both are so positive, informed, generous, kind, loving, and open-minded. I cannot put into words the admiration and adoration I have for Alonzo. He was an amazing colleague, but even more, a most valued friend. My family and I will truly miss you. Our heartfelt prayers go out to Susan, Marie and Alex.
Posted by Karissa Silver on March 24, 2020
I always admired Alonzo Smith for his knowledge, intelligence, wit, and friendliness. I enjoyed traveling around Turkey with him and his sweet wife Sue. My condolences to his family.
RIP Alonzo, you will be missed.
Recent stories

A memorable colleague

Shared by Rita Kranidis on March 24, 2020
I will always remember Alonzo as representing the passionate integrity and commitment among faculty the brought me  MC almost 20 years ago. He had a crystal clear vision and deep understanding of where one draws the line between fair and unfair, just and unjust. He advocated for those without a voice, and he remained creative and critical after so many years in a profession that leaves many of us exhausted and at times dispirited. Not so for Alonzo. --I had the great pleasure to travel India with Alonzo and Susan a few years ago, as part of the Global Humanities Institute, which I directed. Alonzo was also a valued member of the GHI community as a former fellow who worked to engage new pedagogies for bringing global perspectives to his teaching. I am sorry to know Alonzo is gone because he is one of a very brave generation of folks who continue to inspire us today. His impact on his students and his colleagues will continue to effect positive change in this world. -- My love to you, Susan, and your family.