Smith ’56 lives on through gift
Generous spirit of Everest Smith '56 lives on through gift
The generous spirit of the late Everest Smith ’56 – a locally celebrated but ever-humble longtime athlete and Vermont youth-athletics mentoring giant who died this past November 2018 — is a gift that keeps on giving.
In a noble gesture of gratitude all the more striking for the donor’s relatively modest lifestyle, Smith and his wife, Lorraine, in 2005 established a planned gift involving life insurance that now — with the receipt by the College of a check in early January 2019 following his death — has resulted in active establishment of a $1 million scholarship fund to benefit engaged and involved Saint Michael’s students.
“Everest Smith truly embodied what it is to be an alumnus of Saint Michael’s College. He understood the importance of a Saint Michael’s education and also the importance of community,” said Saint Michael’s College President Lorraine Sterritt. “Everest gave a gift from the heart, and generations of students to come will be a part of this wonderful community because of his generosity.”
Emblematic of the donor’s personal legacy of perseverance and hard work, Smith wanted to assure that today’s students might have full and rich campus experiences without the distraction of needing to work a lot of outside jobs to make ends meet — as he did in his own student days.
Smith, a former Golden Gloves boxing champion and indomitable supporter of Saint Michael’s College, stood up to whatever life gave him and went the distance — always with a profound faith-anchored sense of gratitude that never forgot the Saint Michael’s people who helped him along the way. These are the people his gift honors.
In 2005, at the time of his gift decision, Smith described how a scare from a life-threatening illness not long before caused him to take stock of his past and come to the understanding it was time to act on one of his life’s most persistent “impossible dreams” – namely, to figure out a feasible path to a major gift for Saint Michael’s.
An inspired life of faith
Smith said the Edmundite fathers at St. Mike’s took up where Sacred Heart teaching brothers in Rhode Island left off as his early inspirational father-figures, steering him narrowly clear of reform school with good religion, academics and coaching. These men placed him on a solid path to conspicuous achievement as an athlete, U.S. Marine officer, championship high school coach, educator and family man.
To make such a substantial gift seemed barely feasible to Smith at first glance until he got down to work with financial advisers and Saint Michael’s staff experts to create a novel planned gift arrangement involving life insurance and annual support.
The eventual net effect, now being realized, is the creation of the Everest P. Smith Jr. Memorial Scholarship. The fund will provide financial assistance to deserving students who are sophomores or older with a minimum 2.5 GPA, and who are involved in campus ministry, preferably chapel worship activities. Then preference will be given to students involved in varsity athletics, theater or ROTC or Fire and Rescue. The award will be renewable through the recipients’ senior year, with a minimum award of $10,000 per student per year.
Everest said he struggled to make ends meet during college, causing him to miss out on the full experience of campus life, though he was still able to play football for two years while participating in boxing, drama and Catholic groups along the way. He said when making the gift that he hoped recipients of his scholarship can “take advantage of the opportunity to grow through faith, education and teamwork as well as experience campus life to the fullest.”
“My wish is that these scholarship recipients will be inspired to give back when they are in a position to do so,” he said.
While serving in the Marines, Smith began a lifelong career of athletic coaching He began as a basketball coach in the Marine Corps and led the team to victory. He coached college football in Michigan while earning his master’s degree in kinesiology. He also coached varsity football and varsity ice hockey at Burlington High School, where he led both teams to two state championships each during the 1970s, and he coached hockey at Saint Michael’s for a time. While earning his St. Mike’s bachelor’s he represented the College as Vermont Champion Golden Gloves boxer in 1954 and 1955 and was inducted into the Saint Michael’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005.
He taught physical education at Edmunds Middle School in Burlington for 31 years, was an umpire for high school and college baseball and held the position of Vermont State Rules Interpreter for many years; he also was official scorekeeper for the Vermont Lake Monsters minor league baseball team for 15 summers. He was active in his parish in Burlington for many years and later in New Hampshire when he moved there in retirement. His wife, Lorraine, died in 2013.
Students walking near the chapel can see a reminder of Smith: A bronze plaque in The Everest P. Smith Jr. Faith Circle that surrounds a statue of the Blessed Mother — to whom Smith was so devoted through his life — reads “This area is dedicated to Everest P. Smith, Jr. ’56, alumnus and generous supporter of Saint Michael’s College on this Twelfth Day of June 2005. If you can’t be the sun, be a star. It matters not what you do in life, be your best at whatever you are. Keep Faith, Hope in the Lord.”