S. Yeardley Smith, 89, scientist, engineer, sailor


S. Yeardley Smith, a scientist, engineer and avid sailor who logged more than 66,000 miles on his boats since 1970, died of pneumonia at North Anne Arundel Nursing and Convalescent Center on July 16. The Gibson Island resident was 89.

He enjoyed boating and sailed the equivalent of 2 1/2 times around the world on the Khira and the Khira II -- his two 40-foot sailing vessels that he helped to build and design.

He made his way up and down the U.S. and Canadian coastlines and around the Caribbean. He sailed to Bermuda, Nova Scotia and Maine, and, in his earlier years, raced in the Annapolis-Newport and Annapolis-Bermuda races. He sailed well into his mid-80s.

He enjoyed teaching children and young adults how to sail well and safely.

"He was a great seaman, he was a total gentleman and was just a great, great guy. He taught me how to sail on the ocean," said Alec Graham, a former pupil and friend.

"He always had children with him to teach them and bestow his knowledge on them," said Denver Sanner, a friend, former pupil and sailor. "Kids would stop and listen to what he said about sailing, engineering or anything really. He had a way to make anything interesting. He was a patient and genuine guy. He always spent extra time to make sure something was being done right," he said.

"He took us under his wing with no pretension," said Dave Baker III, another friend and fellow sailor. "He was a forthright, authentic guy."

As a younger man, Mr. Smith operated an engineering consultant firm in Baltimore. He was a specialist in building and designing some of the first climatology chambers, which were used until the mid-60s to test ammunition and to help developing countries enable their farm animals adjust to climate change.

He worked for the United Nations and the U.S. Department of Agriculture on these projects.

He was also involved with the Armed Forces Chemical Association, American Society of Heating, Ventilating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, and the National Academy of Science.

He made many trips abroad to India, Malaysia and Singapore to set up climatology chambers for U.S. military and humanitarian use.

A native of Baltimore, he graduated from the Gilman School and the Johns Hopkins University. He did graduate work at $l Massachusetts Institute of Technology and married Doris Buker in 1933.

A memorial service is scheduled for 3: 30 p.m. today at St. Christopher's By the Sea in Gibson Island.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, Samuel Y. Smith Jr. of Timonium and S. Jerrard Smith of Louisville, Ky.; and four grandchildren.

Donations may be made to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, 162 Prince George St., Annapolis 21401.

Pub Date: 8/07/96

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