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Richard Henry Smyth

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Richard Henry Smyth, a retired Foreign Service Officer who served as a professor at the Army War College from 2006 to 2010, passed away at his home in Carlisle on Monday, May 27 after a long struggle with cancer.  His wife and best friend of 34 years, Janice Sullivan Smyth, was with him when he slipped quietly away.

Mr. Smyth, son of the late Ronald Henry Smyth and Alyce Miriam Smyth of Bend, OR, was born in Oakland, CA, in 1951 and raised in the San Francisco Bay area.  He graduated from the University of Washington and then served in the Peace Corps for two years in Afghanistan before attending graduate school at the University of Alabama, where he met his wife, earning a post-graduate certificate in Regional and Urban Planning and Development. 

A Career Foreign Service Officer of the U.S. Department of State since 1979, Mr. Smyth served in Afghanistan, India, Iraq (during 3 years of the Iran/Iraq war), Indonesia, Denmark, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Jamaica.  In 1997, between tours in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, he graduated from the National War College in Washington, DC, with a Masters in Strategic Studies and was promoted into the Senior Foreign Service.  His last assignment before his retirement in 2011 with the personal grade of Minister-Counselor was on detail to NATO as Director for Strategy and Policy in Kabul, Afghanistan.

In addition to his wife, he leaves behind a daughter, Johanna Caitlin Smyth-Teller and son-in-law Andrew Teller, of Salem, OR; two brothers and a sister; as well as many nieces and nephews and a host of good friends with whom he loved to tell stories.  Besides his father, he was preceded in death by a daughter, Theresa Alison Smyth.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the American Cancer Society or to Horsepower for Life (www.horsepowerforlife.org).  A memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 1, 2013, at 2 PM in the Ewing Brothers Funeral Home, 630 S. Hanover St., Carlisle, followed by a reception at the Army Heritage and Education Center.  Chaplain (Col) (Ret) David Reese, US Army will officiate.  A visitation will be held from 1:30 PM until time of service at the funeral home.

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Our prayers are with you, Janice. We are here for you and want to support you any way we can. Rich was the best storyteller and we always loved to hear about his many adventures. Peace and comfort to you.

Karen W. and Bill R.
 Dear Janice, Johanna and family,
Please accept my heartfelt condolences on the death of your loved one. I considered Rich a friend and colleague and also mourn his loss. I know that words cannot express or assuage your grief during this trying time, but hopefully you can take solace in all that Rich did during his time here on earth that had such a profound positive impact on his Country, other Nations and his friends and colleagues. He often regaled us with fantastic stories of his exploits abroad and we often shared our perspectives of central California. We at the Curmudgeon Table in Root Hall cafeteria missed him dearly when he retired and his passing leaves a gaping hole in our close-knit fraternity that will never be filled. We felt privileged to have been able to see and talk with Rich just last month and will cherish that final lunch as we recall all that was fun about him and the permanent contribution of his life. May God help you trough these trying times.

God Bless,
(Ed Filiberti)

We will truly miss his good nature and wit.
Our sincere condolences,

Louis and Michelle Jordan

 Words fail when it comes to offering a tribute to our beloved friend, Rich.
His lasting contributions to both our country and Afghanistan are immense and profound. His constancy as a dear and treasured friend never wavered through the decades and the miles. We are bereft at the thought of never hearing his laughter and tales of adventure again. We pray that Janice, Caity and all the Smyth family find comfort in the outpouring of love from his friends and colleagues.

Lory and Dan Hawley

Dear Janice, Caity and Family:
We are so very sorry for your loss of husband and father, Richard Smyth. He was a most beloved man, who cared so much about other people. His absence will be deeply felt. Please know that you are in our hearts and prayers. Sincerely, Linda (Lynn Meddaugh) & Al Egnal - From Nampa, Idaho

Linda Egnal

A dear and wise friend has departed from our circle. But may we always hear his booming voice of professorial authority and council, opening our eyes to the vast complexity of this world laid out in geopolitical terms.

A fine man who probably fought with the British in the Battle of Ali Masjid at Khyber Pass in a previous lifetime, entertained us in this one with vivid recollections of history brought alive with his passion for the subject, his living knowledge of the land, people and culture of Afghanistan, whom he loved so much.

One of the finest memories I have with him is a summer afternoon spent touring the battlefields of Gettysburg, an insufferably hot day, much like the actual battle days, getting an accounting of that struggle as if we were there, alive and made real. He was a fine teacher and a man of courtly manners and social grace. However you'de better be on your game in any conversation with him that required a command of facts and history.

May he be remembered for his brilliance, intellect and wit and for teaching us lesser mortals the distinctions of fine Jamaican Rum and the nuances of interacting with Russian diplomats with same. He also grew his own vegetables and made a mean rice porridge.

His passing is hard loss for we who loved him. May he continue to live in our hearts always.

Daniel V. Hawley

I served with Rich in Afghanistan and mirrored several of his other assignments and will miss him. As a colleague and friend and fellow admin officer I found the depth of his knowledge, writing skills, mentoring, language ability and love of life to be dynamic and infectious. He was a skilled diplomat and teacher. God bless Rich.

Tom B.

My deepest condolences. Rich was the first person I met at PKSOI upon my return from Afghanistan in 2009. I will always remember his affable manner and dedication to the nation.

Raymond Millen PKSOI

 Rich gave me so many insights during our lunchtime conversations. He has truly shaped my thinking. My thoughts and prayers are with the Smyth family during this difficult time.

Rich Meinhart


 An amazing man, leader, professor, statesman, and friend. I am a much better Army Officer and member of society due to time spent with Rich at the Army War College. God bless Janice and family.

Steve Mathias AWC Class of 2008 "Grapes"


 I had the pleasure of meeting the Smyth family when my family was stationed in Sri Lanka. Rich was always so friendly and interesting to talk to. I didn't know him for very long but I will fondly remember his laugh and his immense kindness. My deepest and heartfelt condolences to the Smyth family for their loss. My heart aches with yours.

Tiffany Thompson - Lakeland, FL
Mrs. Smyth,
I was introduced to your husband briefly as a War College student and it was with pleasure I met him again in Afghanistan in 2009. A group of us were standing up the ISAf Joint Command and Rich was everything we were not in those days - exuding a wonderful, kind, calm, humble knowledge. We talked regularly in the next two years and then less so since 2011. Upon my promotion this winter, he initiated an exchange in which I could absolutely feel his genuine delight for me and also had a chuckle at his self-deprecating humor as he relayed his battle with cancer. He seemed hopeful and lively. We are all so sad to hear of his passing.
I learned so much from him and always left his presence feeling more hopeful about our work, and incredibly, about the world we all live in together as humans. I am so sad to think we won't have fresh injects (just when we seemed to need them most) of his wit, humor and heart. Such a rare person to have made us all better people.
I wish you increasing comfort in the memories of your time together.

Very Respectfully,
Kim Field
Kimberly C. Field

 To the loving Family Members of Sir Richard Henry Smith...

Dear Madam Janice Sullivan Smyth and daughter, Johanna Caitlin Smyth-Teller, Theresa Alison Smyth and Nieces and Nephews ..

I am shocked to know, my Wedding Attesting Witness, Hon. Richard Henry Smith was passed away in 2013 "May 27". I was just browsing to search about him and to renew ties with Sri Lanka.

In 1998 "Aug 27", the Honourable and most respected Diplomat of US Embassy in Sri Lanka attended to my Catholic Wedding with a surprise but as a very humble and simple DPL man to sign on my Certificate of Marriage at the St. Theresas' Church along with High Commissioner of British High Commission Colombo and the Governor of Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Mr. Amaranand Somasiri Jayawardena..

My deepest sympathies to the loving family of the wonderful and Most Respected US Diplomat once served in Asia.. I always remember him and talk about him with my Friends and Family for his holy behavior which anyone could get attracted to him and trust him...

Hon. Richard Henry Smith's Family Members are welcome in Sri Lanka, the Terror-Free Country of Asia and meet my Family too to share the Loss of this Great God Sent Angel...

May he rest in Peace...!!

Vijitha Ivor Fernando (vijithafdo@gmail.com)
kumarifdo@gmail.com (my wife Charitha Kumari studied in ECSU, CT 06226 in 1998/99)
#75 Rampart Road, Ethul Kotte, Sri Lanka
Phone: +94.777.360.425+94.777.360.425, 777.422.427, 777.360.530, 112-883.330

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Ewing Brothers Funeral Home, Inc.
Since 1853
630 S. Hanover St., Carlisle, PA 17013
Phone:  (717) 243-2421
"Five Generations of Service"
Steven A. Ewing, FD, Supervisor, Owner
William M. Ewing, FD
(1926 ~ 2009)
Seymour A. Ewing, FD
(1926 ~ 2009)
Jessie Morrison Ewing, FD
(1892 ~ 1988)
William J. Ewing, FD
(1898 ~ 1934)
Hastings A. Ewing, FD
(1866 ~ 1924)
Alexander B. Ewing, FD
(1831 ~ 1903)

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