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H. Roger Smith ‘59

Dr. H. Roger Smith, Ph.D, age 81, of Mankato, MN, passed away at home surrounded by family on Sunday, December 3, 2017. Born February 10, 1936 to Earle E. Smith and Clare (Holtkamp) Smith in Dover, Ohio, Dr. Smith was a lifelong learner, earning degrees from Antioch University Ohio, Michigan State University, Pratt Institute and Harvard.

Moving to Mankato, Minnesota in 1966 to teach geography, Dr. Smith contributed to the development of Mankato State University's Urban and Regional Studies Institute (URSI). A colorful lecturer who believed in experiential learning, Dr. Smith’s students led studies and workshops that produced tangible improvements for dozens of area communities. He challenged his students and they inspired him in return.

Many of Dr. Smith’s students became lifelong friends. Making Mankato his home, Dr. Smith loved his "river city" and amassed a great knowledge about it. Active in the community, Dr. Smith recognized the importance of downtowns and was a champion of historic preservation long before it was popular. A true history buff, Dr. Smith was an active member of the Blue Earth County Historical Society, a charter member of Mankato's Heritage Preservation Commission, and attended National Historic Trust conferences.

Dr. Smith had a story for nearly every corner of Mankato that he shared with the public on walking tours and by speaking to dozens of community organizations. Literally and figuratively, Dr. Smith was a man who wore many hats. Throughout his life Dr. Smith read on a wide range of subject matter and vigorously pursued his interests including: horticulture, garden design, stained glass, blue water sailing, firefighting, cooking, model railroading, collecting gadgets, restoring antique clocks, cars and his historic home in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.

Dr. Smith is survived by his beloved wife of 21 years, Anne; children, Luke Smith of Lake Jefferson, Minnesota, Rebecca Gappa Morgan of Los Angeles, California, John Gappa (Angie) of Good Thunder, Minnesota, Thor (Christa) Snilsberg of Brooklyn, New York, and Tara Snilsberg of Mankato, Minnesota; grandchildren, Anthony, Nicholas, Angela, Freya, Wynn and many dear friends. He was preceded in death by his parents. Memorials to support scholarships at Minnesota State University Mankato through the Urban Leadership Fund, the Blue Earth County Historical Society or a charity of your choice are appreciated.

A celebration of Dr. Smith’s life will be December 15, 2017 in the historic Ellerbe Bank room in the Verizon Center. Eulogies will begin at 4:30 p.m. Mankato Mortuary is handling arrangements. 1001 North Riverfront Drive Mankato, Minnesota 56001. (507) 388-2202