All of us at IFS mourn the passing of Donald G. (Don) Smith this week. Through his family foundation, Don was one of the earliest IFS donors, and it was through the generous support of he and a handful of others that IFS was able to take flight back in 2005-06.
Don was a true believer in free speech and open debate. My first opportunity to talk with Don at length came when he invited me to New York to participate in a debate on campaign finance, one of many his foundation sponsored on a wide variety of topics. I don’t recall Don ever not coming down on the side of freedom, but he understood that there were multiple sides to every issue, and he always sought to persuade rather than bully or isolate. And then he’d buy his adversary a drink.
Though Don had become very successful, he was always low key, self-deprecating, and down to earth. He remembered where he came from – a picture of his family farm hung in his offices – and he was always grateful for the country and the freedom that made his success possible. Beyond that, I will simply endorse the comments of my friends Peter Goettler and Robert Levy and Larry Reed.
All of us at IFS offer our sincere condolences to all of Don’s family and friends.