NPR staff are deeply mourning the loss of Gary Smith, whose official title was Services Coordinator for Facilities but, as a staff note suggested, “was perhaps NPR’s finest ambassador.”
Gary had been battling health problems for the past few months and passed away unexpectedly this week; NPR is holding a private memorial service for him today.
Gary was in charge of the NPR front desk since 2003 and anyone who passed through the 635 Mass Ave lobby for an on-air interview, meeting, public tour or other purpose knew him, enjoyed his huge smile and undoubtedly struck up a conversation with him.
NPR staff has been posting remembrances on the news organization’s intranet and we’ll share some with you after the jump…
“…Gary represented the best of NPR – dedicated to both his job and co-workers. Not only did Gary greet each person by name, but he would always remember to ask about your family or other small, personal details that he took the time to get to know about so many of us…”
“…He was one of the joys of working at NPR. I wonder how he gathered so much love inside himself and poured it out to others. He was so perceptive. He read our moods, cheered us when he sensed we needed it, laughed with us and made us feel we were family. He was a wonderful listener, had an ease that put you at ease and a deep concern for everyone’s well-being. I loved his eyes which were wise and kind, and his laugh which was so hearty. But most of all I loved his smile…”
“…The genuineness of his greetings never wavered, even if we might see each other several times throughout the course of a day. Often it was simply a smile and a devilish glance over his glasses – other times he might throw in a brotherly tease, calling me by a nickname that only he could get away with. A greeting by Gary was more than merely a courteous gesture – it was a benediction that never failed to uplift. Everyone who came through NPR’s lobby – heads of state, movie stars, NPR big shots and behind-the-scenes staff, countless visitors – all were treated with the same generosity of spirit by Gary…”