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In memoriam: Psychology professor Noel Smith dies at 88

Noel Smith

FFRF Member Noel Wilson Smith, 88, of Sarasota, Fla., died on Aug. 14. He was born Nov. 2, 1933, in Marion, Ind., to Anthony Smith and Mary (Wilson) Smith. He graduated from Indiana University in 1955 and completed graduate studies at the University of Colorado (M.A. 1958) and Indiana University (Ph.D. 1962). 

Noel was professor of psychology at the State University of New York (SUNY), where he retired from teaching in 1995 after 32 years. He continued his academic research in retirement, holding positions as professor emeritus at SUNY Plattsburgh, courtesy professor at the University of Florida, and fellow in the American Psychological Association. 

Noel also held offices in the American Association of University Professors, where he was active in advocating for academic freedom. He authored multiple books including Current Systems in Psychology: Theory, Research, and Applications and An Analysis of Ice Age Art: Its Psychology and Belief System. He co-authored with J.R. Kantor The Science of Psychology: An Interbehavioral Survey; and he published numerous journal articles on prehistorical, historical and interbehavioral psychology. He published his last book, The Myth of Mind: A Challenge to Mainstream Psychology and its Imposed Constraints, in 2016 at the age of 82.

Noel was interested in almost everything about the world and its people, with particular interests in anthropology, pre-history, ancient Greece, and the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. He loved to travel and explore the world, with particular fondness for vineyard regions where a fine red wine could be found. He shared his adventures and enthusiasm with his family during many travels together, visiting ancient sites throughout Greece and Europe, roaming Scotland and Norway during a year as visiting professor at Hull College in England, and in many trips across the U.S. and Canada. 

In retirement, Noel traveled to South America, Africa and Asia, and twice visited Lithuania, the “old country” his grandparents emigrated from, to research and document the family history. Noel enjoyed skiing and hiking in the Rockies and Adirondack Mountains in his younger days, and kayaking, wildlife viewing and bicycling after moving to Florida in retirement. He had a lifelong interest in photography, with a vast collection of photographs from black-and-white to Kodachrome to digital. In 1999, Noel founded the Humanists of Sarasota Bay (Husbay), where he made many friends, serving as its president until 2008.