Dr. Henry Bracey Smith, a pathologist who had headed his department at the old Provident Hospital, died of kidney failure Sunday at Sinai Hospital. The Pikesville resident was 72.
Born in Coahoma County, Miss., and raised in Jackson, Miss., he played football while a student at Holy Ghost High School. He won an athletic scholarship to Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Miss., where he earned a degree in biology.
While in college he met his future wife, the former Carldine Durr. They married in 1957.
After serving in the Army, he enrolled in a medical technology program at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, but soon decided to pursue medicine. In 1965, he earned a medical degree.
He did a residency in Baltimore at the old U.S. Public Health Service Hospital at Wyman Park.
Dr. Roland T. Smoot, a physician and Johns Hopkins dean, recruited him to be Provident Hospital's pathology department chairman when the historically black hospital moved to a new building on Liberty Heights Avenue. Dr. Smith remained at Provident until the hospital closed in the 1990s.
"We called him Smitty," said Dr. Ferdinand Leacock, a surgeon and friend. "A small group of us would drop by his lab and chat with him. He was a reserved man, a solid kind of guy. If he gave you his word, he carried it out."
Dr. Smith later worked at Bon Secours and Spring Grove hospitals.
"He was loyal and dedicated," said attorney George L. Russell Jr., a friend for four decades. "He spent his life in pursuit of excellence. He was genuine and completely honest."
At his death, Dr. Smith was medical director for the Mid-Towne Medical Group, an industrial medical practice on Mount Royal Avenue.
Friends said that he often spoke of the value of healthy living. After parking his car each morning at his office, he began the day by taking a long walk through Mount Vernon.
"He was fond of old Southern cooking and would compare his recipes with the staff," said Fern Matthewson-Stalling, Mid-Towne's president. "He would share his experiences on growing up in Mississippi and on his travels."
Dr. Smith was the father of eight children, including two sets of twins. His family came first, his children said.
"He was most comfortable at home, sharing large meals at family gatherings," said his daughter, Dr. Alva Smith, a dentist who lives in Randallstown. "When the excitement became a little too much, he went to his room and watched a Western movie or read political news or listened to the Mississippi blues music he loved as a young man."
He was a lifetime member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and was a member of the Gamma Boule of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the March West Funeral Home, 4300 Wabash Ave.
In addition to his daughter, survivors include three other daughters, Adrian Smith of Perry Hall, and Angela Smith and Suzanne Smith, both of Pikesville; four sons, Gordon Smith of Bel Air, David Smith of Ellicott City, Douglas Smith of Baltimore and Russell Smith of Pikesville; a brother, Dennis Whitfield of Elwood, Ill.; a sister, Marie Hamilton of Kansas City, Kan.; and six grandchildren. His wife died in 2002.