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NC State News

In Memoriam: William A. Smith Jr.

William Adams Smith Jr., a longtime industrial engineering professor who retired in 1998, died June 3 in Southern Pines from complications of dementia. He was 84.

During a long and distinguished career at NC State, Smith served as head of the industrial engineering department, director of the Productivity Research and Extension Program and coordinator of Advanced Quality Programs for the Industrial Extension Service. He came to NC State in 1973 from Lehigh University, where he was director of the Lehigh Computing Laboratory.


Former industrial engineering professor Bill Smith taught at NC State for 25 years.

Smith was a committed public servant who volunteered as president, chair and president emeritus of the nonprofit North Carolina Quality Leadership Foundation, which he helped found. He received four Order of the Long Leaf Pine awards for outstanding service from governors of North Carolina between 1984 and 1994. He gave tirelessly of his time to numerous professional, technical and academic organizations and had over 100 industrial-academic applied research projects. He was a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity, the Society of Cincinnati and the Society of Colonial Wars.

On active duty in the Navy in 1951-55, Smith served two tours in the Korean War on board the Wisconsin,  the Lake Champlain and the Waldron. He served in the U.S. Naval Reserve until his retirement as a captain in 1981.

Smith was born in Parkersburg, West Virginia, on July 13, 1929. He was the only child of William Adams and Mary Callanan Smith. He graduated from Parkersburg High School in 1946, attended West Virginia University in 1946-47 and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1951. He earned an M.S. in industrial engineering from Lehigh University in 1957 and a doctorate of engineering science in industrial engineering from New York University in 1966.

He is survived by five children, three stepchildren and 14 grandchildren.

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