Charlie Moore ’19
Dr. David Smith, one of the most visible members of the community, will sadly be leaving the Woodberry faculty at the end of the 2017-2018 school year. Our revered and respected chaplain has upheld a very unique roll on our campus, heading the one-person religion department, rocking a stellar hat tan, and of course leading weekly chapel services.
Arriving on Woodberry’s campus in the fall of ‘79, Dr. Smith accepted the assistant minister job upon graduating from seminary school. He learned very quickly about the high standards for young masters. Emmitt Wright, headmaster when Dr. Smith started, was stern, strong willed, and fair. Despite his sharp sense of humor, Mr. Wright knew how important it was to teach younger members of the faculty how to do their job. After one particularly powerful “chewing out” session from Mr. Wright, Dr. Smith remembers being invited by the headmaster to play golf with some guests. Clearly Mr. Wright’s “stern but fair” attitude had a profound impact on Dr. Smith.
After a few years as chaplain, Dr. Smith left Woodberry to lead a parish in Mississippi, where he had a big office, plenty of money to control, and all the amenities.
After decades of chasing this “the big chair,” Dr. Smith had an epiphany: he wanted to return to Woodberry. Unfortunately, the position wasn’t available. Following eight years at Chatham Hall, Woodberry finally had an opening as chaplain. Dr. Smith returned in 2010.
For any student that has had the pleasure of taking Dr. Smith’s Bible class, they will tell you that he loves to tell stories. Students know to listen up any time Dr. Smith begins to enlighten the class with a past experience. Highlights include time spent as a private investigator, part time marriage counselor, and a vague description of a trip of which details cannot be divulged. Since Dr. Smith left in the 80s and returned in the 2010s he has a unique perspective on how Woodberry has changed. In fact, there are currently a few students on campus whose fathers also took Dr. Smith’s class.
One of the most interesting, hard to believe, but really funny differences between life now and then, was faculty bands. About once a week, Dr. Smith and a few other faculty members would file into the history department office and jam out. Mandolin was Dr. Smith’s instrument of choice, and he seems to take pride in the music he and his informal band played together: “we weren’t bad.” Faculty bands would certainly draw a crowd today, but unfortunately they were left in the 80s graveyard along with leg warmers, the Cosby Show, and “Just say no.”
While we all hear his unrecognizable voice on fall Saturday afternoons sitting beside the WFSPN crew, Dr. Smith earned that job with a strong resume of football and on-air experience. In college, being a radio DJ gave Dr. Smith the professionalism needed to man the booth with Mr. Jacobs, Gray Robertson, and now Crawford Humphries. WFSPN also allowed him to share his experiences from his coaching time with coach Caughron and coach Gillespie, giving him the unique ability to relate to former pupils while listening to their sons play.
When asked what he will miss most about Woodberry, Dr. Smith smiled and enjoyed remembering all the wonderful interactions he has had with Woodberry boys over the years. He loves the good-natured banter during his Bible classes and is proud to say he played a small role in helping the development of young men that go out to “contribute mightily to humankind.” He recognized his colleagues, dedicated people who truly have the best interests of the students and the community in their hearts.
While “Divine Providence” is what controls what he does next, Dr. Smith and his wife will retire to Charlottesville later this year in effort to minimize their footprint. Dr. Smith plans to make his farewell chapel service the one right before senior shake. He isn’t quite sure what he will say yet, but he knows it will come to him when the moment is right.