Wednesday, September 27, 2023, Obituary

Published 7:41 pm Tuesday, September 26, 2023

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Robert W. Smith

Robert W. Smith, internationally-renowned educator, composer, conductor, and music publisher died on September 21, 2023 in Montgomery, AL, of complications following heart surgery.

Mr. Smith was a devoted husband and father. He is survived by wife Susan L. (Hawkins) Smith; two daughters, Savannah Grace Smith and Madison Windham Smith; and a sister, Pam Tindol (Mike); niece: Rachel Gillis; nephews: Lex Tindol, Jay Hawkins(Alison), Turner Hawkins(Victoria), JR Hawkins, Jake Hawkins; aunt and uncle: Jessie and Pat Windham; brothers-in-law: Ben Hawkins (Cyndee), Chuck Hawkins (Jeanette); and numerous other family, friends, colleagues, and students.  He was preceded in death by his father, Staff Sgt Benjamin Smith (U.S. Army, ret.) and his mother, Grazia Windham Smith. Further, Mr. Smith earned the friendship of tens of thousands of colleagues and fans throughout the world.

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Born in 1958 in Daleville, AL, Mr. Smith graduated from Daleville High School, and earned a bachelor’s degree from Troy University and a master’s degree from the University of Miami, where he studied with Alfred Reed. He taught high school band in Florida at Pinellas Park High School and Clearwater High School before being appointed to the faculty of James Madison University, where he met his future wife, Susan. He served as Director of Bands at Troy University from 1997-2001. He later returned to his alma mater to build a new program in Music Industry, which met with meteoric success in size and in its record of graduate placement in professional positions. Mr. Smith took pride in founding and leading POPulus, Troy University’s American Popular Music Ensemble. In 2015, he founded RWS Music Publishing Company, nurturing and promoting dozens of aspiring composers. Through his own profuse output of compositions, which were beloved by beginning students and professionals alike and his appearances as guest conductor and clinician on five continents, Robert inspired musicians and audiences across the globe.

Throughout his life, Robert was closely involved with various organizations within Drum Corps International, including Suncoast Sound, Magic of Orlando (which he founded), Spirit of Atlanta, Cadets of Bergen County, Boston Crusaders, Colts, Madison Scouts, and the Troopers. In 2010, he was elected to the DCI Hall of Fame, which recognized him as a pioneer in the activity, in no small part due to having written and produced the competitive circuit’s first show consisting exclusively of originally composed music, for Suncoast Sound.

Robert received multiple other awards and recognitions for his work, including elected membership in the exclusive American Bandmasters Association, of which he was serving as President-Elect at the time of his death. In 2022, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal from Kappa Kappa Psi, National Honorary Band Service Fraternity, in which he had become a brother as a student at Troy University.

It is impossible to fully express the positive influence Robert had on untold numbers of people worldwide, most especially on his family members and those friends who knew him best. News of his passing has met with an overwhelming outpouring of love and support, for which the family wishes to express their deepest gratitude.

A visitation will be held on Thursday, September 28 from 5-7 p.m. at Dillard Funeral Home in Troy. A second visitation followed by a Celebration of Life service will take place in Claudia Crosby Theater on the campus of Troy University. The visitation will begin at noon, and the service at 2:00.

Memorial donations can be made to the Troy University Music Industry Program online at or mailed to the Troy University John M. Long School of Music 112 Long Hall, Troy AL. 36082.