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Marcus Emmett Smith ’00

December 1, 2021, in Portland.

As a child, Marcus loved to tinker. He made things out of wood and took things apart to see how they worked. It was something he did throughout life, and in addition to taking computers, bikes, or cars apart, he  mostly put them back together again.

Original, quick-witted, and self-effacing, Marcus was a relentless warrior against cancer, kidney disease, moronic hypocrisy, unconsidered conformity, and pretentiousness. After graduating from Gonzaga University, he earned a master’s degree in Russian history at Reed, where he wrote his thesis, “Red Machine 4.0: Dziga Vertov and the Kino-Eye,” advised by Prof. Scott Smith [Russian 1997–2002]. To support himself through Reed, he worked as an IT specialist in Portland. Marcus loved Russian history and traveled to Moscow as a student. Later, when he worked for the U.S. Department of State, he lived in Moscow for three years.

Marcus left the State Department to study film preservation for a year at the prestigious L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York. Jobs in film preservation were hard to come by, so he returned to Portland, where he continued his IT work and started his own company, Red Star Machine Works. When he became too ill to continue running the company, he sold it, continuing, as he was able, to do IT work for select businesses and friends.

He was an avid chef who loved to research and then make breads, cheeses, sauces, and other creations from scratch and share them with friends. His house was filled with cooking gadgets, Russian art posters, vintage cameras, various electronic projects, computers, cats, and Polaroid pictures documenting his life. He secretly loved disco music and hated kombucha and squash of all kinds.

At the time of his death, Marcus was being cared for by his devoted sister, a loving friend, and wonderful caretakers. He had multiple visitors, often connecting friends and family whom he had often talked about separately but who had not yet met each other. He died mostly on his own terms, never having to leave his house or his cats.

Marcus was a road bike racer until a skydiving accident in 1998, when his leg was broken in multiple places. Although the leg eventually healed, he never was able to race bikes again, but at least had an impressive story! His love of road bikes turned into love for his vintage restored BMW motorcycle.

Even while ill, he loved to putter around in his vegetable garden in the last summer of his life. He loved animals of all kinds, but cats were his spirit animal, and he was devoted to many cats over his lifetime. He is survived by his sister, Melissa Ryon; and his brothers, Mike, Matt, and Mitch Smith.

Appeared in Reed magazine: June 2022

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