In Memory of Dr. Herman Smith, Ph.D

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 10, No. 11            March 16, 2000

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The late Dr. Smith conducting a tour of Maya ruins

This week San Pedro mourns the passing of Dr. Herman A. Smith, Ph.D. Born July 5, 1938, Herman left this world last Friday, March 10th at the young age of 61. This past Monday, seven boats holding approximately 70 of his friends and loved ones set sail for a memorial service held at North Ambergris Caye. The site was one of Herman's favorite spots and was beautifully decorated with palm fronds and red hibiscus by Bob and Diane Campbell. A modified military service conducted by Jim Diehl, was complete with honor guards and a shot gun salute courtesy of Chris Berlin. In Herman's honor, Mr. Jerry McDermott read a poem by Pilot John G. McGee, Jr.

    For those of you unfamiliar with the "Old Curmudgeon" as he called himself in the recent past, Dr. Herman Smith was very involved in the archaeology of this country. As early as 1983 he found himself lecturing on Belize and was one of the principal investigators on the San Juan (1986), Ek Luum and Chac Balaam (1987) Archaeological Projects. In 1989 he was the Project Director in the Search for the Lost British Fleet of 1787 at St. George's Caye. He was the Director of the Lamanai South Archaeological Project in Orange Walk during 1995/96 and a Principal Advisor of the Ambergris Caye Historical Museum which houses many of his "finds". His lectures on the Maya civilization entertained many at countless community, countrywide and international functions. He was published numerous times in various archaeological and Belize magazines, most recently in a book he compiled from his "Dig It" stories, titled "Archaeology Without Tears". This book was based on the ancient Maya and the many interesting discoveries he made while digging in Belize and beyond. (These stories may be accessed at

    He was proud to have served his country (the United States) as a Marine Captain/Pilot, primarily flying search and rescue missions during the Viet Nam conflict of 1966-69. He was awarded the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, earned seventeen Air Medals and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

    He became a Belizean citizen just last year, having lived here twelve years. He was a wonderful husband to wife Pam, a loving father to daughters Fern Smith and Sara Smith Donahue and proud grandfather to Sara's son, Jake. He was a business partner in Sunrise Realty with his wife, Jesse Cope, and Amanda Syme, as well as Karl and Ellen Koster, with whom he was also a former partner in the boat Ooh La La. He was a friend to more people than can be mentioned in one newspaper and he left us all too soon. Rest assured he will live on in our hearts and our fondest memories forever or until we can join him for that "Big Dig in the Sky"!

High Flight

by Pilot John G. McGee, Jr.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds-and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of-wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew-
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
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