Mrs. Reason begs to differ with the ex-governor

RegardingRobert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s recent column about Ron Smith ("Missing Maryland's 'Voice of Reason'," Feb. 5), with all due respect, the only chip my husband ever had was on the golf course.

Ron most certainly did not have a chip on his shoulder about his "lack of a formal education." It was his decision not to pursue it. He rejected habitual repetition of something to be learned without a full explanation and exchange of ideas. He may have made reference to it as a mockery of the entitlements higher education is purported to confer, but he was proud of being an autodidact, and his savvy listeners knew that.

I wonder how many "formally educated" pundits have been quoted as the example sentence of one of Merriam-Webster's "Word of the Day" global postings, taken from his words written in this newspaper. As his friend Blair Lee said, "Ron Smith was the poster child for home schooling."

Had there been such a thing, Ron would surely have received an honorary Ph.D. in the Art of Conversation. He was provocative, provoking and peerless. Unlike many with a formal education, he never stopped learning or searching for the truth wherever it led.

Above all, Ron didn't want people to think like he did, he just wanted them to think. One of his recent themes had been how the powers-that-be are protecting people from the things that don't harm them and subjecting them to the things that do. He was the voice of reason.

Ron was never gruff. As a matter of fact, what made him listenable and beloved was that he was polite and respectful even when delivering contrary opinions to guests or callers. He wasn't bombastic. His depth of knowledge and perception without agenda is what garnered the huge audience he commanded, as acknowledged by the great outpouring of grief at his (and their) loss.

Ron was able to parry either a guest or caller without being bombastic or disrespectful; hence, the magic of Ron was that these traits garnered a weekly listening audience of many thousands, quite a feat in a blue state of small numbers.

The truth must be told.

June Ray Smith, Shrewsbury, Pa.

The writer is the widow of former WBAL host and Sun columnist Ron Smith.

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