Braille Monitor                                                                  November 1985


Frank Smith Dies

by Marc Maurer

Frank Smith, First Vice President of the National Federation of the Blind of Idaho, died September 25, 1985. On September 10 Frank had been taken to the hospital with severe internal pain. Shortly thereafter, he learned that he had massive liver cancer. Frank Smith lived and breathed the spirit of the National Federation of the Blind.

Immediately after learning that he was dying of cancer, Frank told other members of the Federation that his active work on Federation matters would soon be over. He wanted to finish the work that he had started. He was a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Idaho Commission for the Blind. Because of his membership in the National Federation of the Blind, he had been removed from his job at the agency. Although Frank was in such severe pain that it was a physical effort for him to give testimony, he asked that he be afforded the opportunity to tell under oath about the events surrounding his dismissal. On the 17th of September Frank Smith testified from his hospital bed. As he said, "I'm just trying to gain freedom for the blind of Idaho."

On September 14, 1985, (four days after he entered the hospital with cancer of the liver) Frank Smith--in recognition of his long and faithful service to the organized blind movement--was given the Thelander Award, which is the highest honor the National Federation of the Blind of Idaho can bestow. The letter which accompanied the award said:

September 14, 1985

Dear Frank:

Today the entire board of the NFBI and other members met in Twin Falls. We all wish to extend to you our love and our thanks for your many years of outstanding service to the blind of Idaho, both as a leader in the organized blind movement and as the "Main Man" in Orientation or in whichever of your many other capacities at the Idaho Commission for the Blind. There is no question that you have positively influenced the lives of literally hundreds of blind people in this state and throughout our country.

By unanimous consent, the membership attending this board meeting voted to present you with our highest honor, the 1985 Thelander Award, for extraordinary contributions to the improvement in our lives through knowledge leading to higher expectations.

Our heartfelt thanks to you, Mr. Solid Gold.

The letter was signed by thirty people. The Thelander Award was presented on Monday, September 16, 1985, by the President of our Idaho affiliate, Dr. Norman Gardner. The inscription on the plaque reads:

1985 Thelander Award
To Frank Howard Smith
For loyalty, leadership, courage, and service to the blind.
Always in our hearts.
National Federation of the Blind of Idaho

Quiet, unassuming, strong in spirit, joyous of heart--that was Frank Smith. A member of the movement. He will remain "always in our hearts."