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Farewell to a Special Family Friend

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Farewell to a Special Family Friend

Behind the Curtain at TMM

Farewell to a Special Family Friend

Gary Smith

NPR Greeter and Client Services Coordinator Gary Smith shares good times with TMM at the home of Michel Martin. Lee Hill, NPR hide caption

toggle caption Lee Hill, NPR

We want to share some sad news, which, unfortunately, won't mean anything to you unless you've ever visited us here at our D.C. studios. But if you have been here, then you met our dear friend, Gary Smith.

Today, NPR's Acting CEO and COO both described him as "NPR's finest ambassador."

And that is just right.

Gary greeted visitors, on-air guests and all of us every day. From the moment I hit the door here, two years ago or so, Gary made me (and all of us) feel special and welcomed. Yes, he did manage to maneuver himself into every picture ever taken with any celebrity who hit the door, even the ones whose publicists were busy screaming, no pictures! And, yes, he did manage to turn up at every party, including those to which he had not been, well, invited ... but how could you say no?

Gary Smith was one of a kind, and he left us last night. He had been struggling with some health issues for sometime, but we thought he was on the mend; this is quite a shock. It's a reminder that you can't take any day for granted.

Here's a snippet of Gary commemorating TMM's first radio anniversary:

Farewell to a Special Family Friend

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Gary, we miss you and love you, and we hope we told you often enough when you were here with us. Because you certainly told us.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

I am deeply saddened by this news.

Instantly, I my mind drifts to that of his loved ones and as such, my sincere thoughts and prayers go out to Gary's friends and family. He was truly a gentleman and a scholar. I will always remember his wonderful personality and charm.

Gary was that bright beacon of light that greeted me each morning as I entered NPR's headquarters. "Hey Tyrone," he would say. "Good Morning Gary," I would often reply. He would give that great big smile, and I would be on my way.

But, unlike most at NPR who would only be blessed by his presence at work, Gary was also that faithful friend who never failed to call out to me, as I walked through the Americana Finnmark complex in Silver Spring, MD where he lived and I crashed with a friend during my time at NPR. Gary was a truly wonderful human being. People are often remembered as such after the fact, but in this case it is extremely true and fitting. In my estimation, Gary will always be remembered as that gentle man with the warm and caring heart.

Semper Fidelis, Gary --- Semper Fidelis, friend.

Sent by Tyrone M. | 10:50 PM | 7-15-2008

i never meet gary but my sister stacey foxwell would always tell gary about my obsession with the steelers. i knew through stacey that gary was the #1 steeler fan. My prayers to his family and to the NPR family.
kathy harris

Sent by Kathy Harris | 7:38 AM | 7-16-2008

Michel, Thanks for remembering Gary. And for sharing his voice with us one last time. It was very upsetting to read about his loss because he loved life so much. As soon as I saw him every morning, sitting behind that desk, I couldn't help but smile. I figured his hospital visit was just a check-up, an unfortunate routine, and that he'd come back soon. Missing him, Doualy

Sent by dx | 3:53 PM | 7-16-2008

Gary was someone who reminded you that not everyone lives under a constant news deadline and having one is NO excuse for being rude or not taking a second to just smile back or say brief, kind words (like Thank You). From the outpouring of emotion from all corners and titles in this building, it's evident that Gary's passing is a huge reminder that while it's nice to think highly of yourself, it's much better when others do as well.

Sent by Danyell | 5:02 PM | 7-16-2008

My deepest condolences to the NPR Staff and Gary Smith's family on your lost. Though I did not know him, I can tell by his voice that he was well loved by all. His picture leads to me to believe he was very huggable. May God Bless you All. MiMi en N. VA

Sent by MiMi en N.VA | 6:47 PM | 7-16-2008

I never met or even heard of Gary Smith until I heard the "good-bye" story about him today. How sad. It is clear that he was loved by many and a tremendous ambassador for NPR. Rest in peace, Gary.

Sent by Michael T., Los Angeles | 6:33 PM | 7-18-2008

Gary was a great mentor to me,my family, and several others growing up in Buffalo, N.Y. He has been my friend for 25 years. Everybody loved Lenard, as we called him, and he always had the coolest apartment. When Gary moved to D.C. he stayed with me a while when I was attending Howard University. I helped him find his first apartment, these were wonderful times. RIP MY BROTHER.

Sent by Brent Trammell,Memphis,TN | 6:16 PM | 7-23-2008