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Phillip O. Smith ’73

July 20, 2020, while hiking in the Olympic Mountains of Washington.

Philip discovered a passion for exploration as a child in Pacific Palisades, California, playing with his siblings Cathy, Lisa, and Bruce on mountain paths and back roads. As a father, he would pass along his delight in wild places to his daughters, Rachel and Jen.

He graduated from Palisades Charter High School and came to Reed, where he wrote his thesis, “The Shubnikov-de Haas Effect in Bismuth,” advised by Prof. Thomas Bracken [physics 1970–73]. Philip met his wife, Barbara Bahrt Smith ’72, through the Reed College Christian Fellowship, and they married before he started his second year as a medical student at UCLA.

His work was a desire to care for others and a calling deeply rooted in his Christian faith. In his medical practice, he was active in serving the needs of deaf persons using American sign language, and he was a physician advisor for local emergency medical technicians. When he was a medical resident, he dreamed of volunteering in an African country. In 1992, he took a leave of absence from his practice in Marysville, Washington, and moved his family to the northwest province of Cameroon, where he and Barbara worked for 15 months at Banso Baptist Hospital, homeschooling their daughters. Before returning to his own practice, Philip climbed Mount Kenya and Mount Kilimanjaro.

Philip worked as a family doctor in Marysville, Washington, for 40 years, forging a profound connection to many patients, delivering three generations of babies, and relishing the chance to see them grow and thrive.

He died while hiking the Bailey Range Traverse in the Olympic Mountains, surrounded by the high peaks and wildflowers he loved.

Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2021

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