Former chair of anthropology dies

contact: Teresa Ventimiglia
| WMU News
Photo of Robert Jack Smith.

Robert Jack Smith

Robert Jack Smith, professor emeritus and former chair of anthropology at Western Michigan University, died Jan. 31. He was 85.

Robert Jack Smith

Smith joined the faculty in 1963 and retired in 1988 after 25 years of service to the University. He chaired the Department of Anthropology from 1978 until his retirement.

A specialist in medical anthropology, Smith placed a research emphasis on cultural diversity and health care delivery systems, and cross-cultural studies on aging. He traveled internationally researching the subject.

Smith was active in the University community, serving on the Faculty Senate, the Graduate Curriculum Committee, the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Advisory Council, among many other campus groups. He was also a member of many professional organizations.

In addition, he was also active in the Kalamazoo community and served as chairman of the Kalamazoo County Board of Health and the board of directors of the American Cancer Society.

Smith earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Yale University and a doctoral degree from the University of Pennsylvania.


A gathering will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6, at the Holiday Inn, 2747 S. 11th St., in Kalamazoo. A service is planned from 1:30 to 2 p.m.


Condolences to the family may be left at