In Memory

Richard Smith

Richard Smith

Richard C. Smith.  Richard was killed in a car-train accident at the Penn Central tracks at 24th St. in Battle Creek on November 3, 1970.  Richard was a machine operator at Clark Equipment Co. for four years and served for two years in the U.S. Army.  He was survived by his wife Mrs. Joyce Smith [the source did not mention other survivors].

Richard was a known young civil rights leader and was recognized for that in a memorial service by a group that included Mayor Frederick R. Brydges and City Commissioner Donald Sherrod at Northwestern Jr. High School on December 20th.  The service included musical selections by the Southeastern Jr. High School Choir and eulogies by Mayor Brydges; Sherrod; Harry R. Davidson, superintendent of Battle Creek Schools; and William E. Boards, Jr., a consultant to the Black Recondos.  Four plaques honoring Richard were dedicated. One was presented to his family, another to his wife, the third that was to be displayed at a community building to be established in his name, and a fourth that was placed permanently in the lobby of the Central High School fieldhouse.

Richard founded and was first president of the Young Adult Council of the Battle Creek NAACP.  The council was the forerunner of the Black Recondos, an interracial adult group which works with young people in the community.  While a student at Kellogg Community College, he organized the council’s police force and served as its first chief.  He also organized the first informal discussions among adults, young people and police officials.  And, he organized activities for students at the Ft. Custer Job Corps Center and developed a program to bring the corpsmen into local homes on Thanksgiving Day.

Smith originated a beautification campaign in the northwest area of the city in which other young people took part.  He was a Vice President of Region I, young adult and college chapters of the NAACP and was recognized by the City Commission in 1967 for “effective work among the young adults of our city and for the acclaim and distinction he has brought to our community.”  In July 1967, he was recognized by the Battle Creek Board of Education for his work to increase the number of black teachers and administrators, to use more texts showing minority group persons and to create programs in black studies.  Richard received a letter from John W. Gardner, Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare at that time, commending his efforts to improve opportunities for minority persons in the public schools.  He also founded a Problem Clinic for Young Adults at the Community Services Building on W. Van Buren Street.  The Richard C. Smith Scholarship Fund was established in 1968 to aid needy youths in elementary school through college.


Information from the Enquirer and News, Battle Creek, Michigan, December 18, 1970

obtained from Willard Library

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11/04/14 02:39 PM #1    

Jeff Brackett

I believe that Richard (RC) Smith was killed in his car by a train, leaving work at Clark Equipment, in 1971-1972.  


11/05/14 07:25 PM #2    

David Campbell

Jeff is correct he was hit by a train at the crossing in front of Clark Equip. I know because I was behind him leaving work myself there were two trains involved one was setting at the crossing blocking the view of the second one he didnt see until it was to late

02/10/15 11:04 PM #3    

Craig Bundy

I heard of Richard death many years ago but didn't want to believe it. He was truely a great guy. I had no idea he accomplished so much in his short life. It would take most people a lifetime to make that big an impact.

02/14/15 03:34 PM #4    

Barbara Zeltman (Turner)

I remember this as though it was yesterday. Richard was one of the only guys that my dad would let into our house when no one was home...usually to bring our crazy boxer, (Major)  back in.  I was working at Clark's when my mom (who also was employed there) called me and told me to sit down. Then she delivered the news. I was blown away. He was one of my "brothers" along with Mickey McNeal.

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