Advertisement
Obituaries

Albert N. ‘Neale’ Smith Jr., former owner of sugar brokerage A.N. Smith & Co., one of Baltimore’s oldest family-owned businesses, dies

Albert N. “Neale” Smith Jr., former owner of A.N. Smith & Co., a sugar brokerage that is one of the oldest family-owned businesses in Baltimore, and earlier an educator and coach, died of ischemic colitis March 22 at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center. The Charlesbrooke resident was 82.

“Neale was a great salesman because he was honest, sincere and kept his word, and as a buyer, that was his personality,” said Hank Spangler, who at his retirement in 2004 was director of procurement for McCormick & Co. “He was not a pressure person, and came up with new ideas and how we could do things better. I loved the man to death.”

Advertisement

Joe Herb, who was a client of Mr. Smith’s, worked as national sales manager for Domino Sugar.

“I was in the sugar business for 40 years and Neale was just an extraordinary broker and he’d sell for us,” recalled Mr. Herb, who retired in 2019. “He was absolutely the epitome of everything you’d want in a salesman. He had a wonderful personality, was above reproach, and a gentleman about everything.”

Advertisement

Albert Neale Smith Jr., son of Albert N. Smith Sr., former owner and chairman of the board of A.N. Smith & Co., and his wife, Margaret Vogel Perin, a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and was raised in Ruxton and Riderwood.

After graduating in 1958 from St. Paul School for Boys, he first attended Colgate University on a full athletic scholarship. After enduring an upstate New York winter his freshman year, he transferred to the Johns Hopkins University, where he played varsity lacrosse and football, and was a member of both sport’s national championship teams.

“We were born eight days apart in the same hospital and have been friends ever since,” Charles “Butch” Darrell said. “We grew up together in Ruxton and went to St. Paul’s together, and what made Neale such a great athlete was his enthusiasm.”

After earning his bachelor’s degree from Hopkins, he decided to forgo a potential professional sports career and enlisted in the Navy instead. He was commissioned an ensign in 1963, and served aboard the USS Constellation as a nuclear weapons officer.

To keep his fellow sailors busy, he took charge of all shipboard entertainment and arranged concerts, including one that included the famous jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong, and organized athletic events.

After serving in Vietnam, he was discharged from the Navy in 1966, and remained an active reservist for 22 years, retiring with the rank of commander.

Mr. Smith returned to Baltimore at the conclusion of his naval service and taught history and coached football and lacrosse for a year before being named head football coach at Calvert Hall College High School while also teaching at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.

He met his future wife, the former Joan Fleischhauer, a Garrison Forest School teacher, on a blind date in 1967 that was arranged by his mother and the wife of the headmaster of Garrison Forest School. They wed in 1970.

Advertisement

In 1968, Mr. Smith abandoned his coaching career and moved to Boston where he took a position as a professional recruiter for Raytheon Technologies. That same year, he was called back to active naval duty at Newport, Rhode Island, where he taught as a member of the faculty of the Officer Candidate School, and again in 1969.

In 1971, he and his wife returned to Baltimore where he joined his father in the family-owned A.N. Smith & Co., sugar brokers, which had been established in 1886 by his grandfather Aloysius Smith.

Mr. Smith purchased the business a few years before his father died in 1980. With business partner George Brecht, he founded a second business, MJ Distribution Co., a food ingredient company in 1996, which was named for their wives, Marion and Joan.

The two Hampden-based businesses are now owned and operated by Mr. Smith’s son, Albert Neale “Chip” Smith III, who lives in the city’s Poplar Hill neighborhood.

“He taught me the importance of relationships and getting to know our customers as people and getting to know their needs and the needs of their business,” his son said.

“His son inherited the business, so it will continue,” Mr. Herb said. “Chip is just like his dad and he learned from the best.”

Advertisement

“Neale was a really good salesman and the consummate gentleman. He was more interested in the person he was talking to than himself,” said Bud Chapman, who retired in 2012 from Archer-Daniels-Midland. “We were competitors but Neale was one of the nicest men I’ve ever met. He later became our food broker in Baltimore and represented Domino Sugar.”

Said Mr. Spangler: “I would describe our relationship in threes. We were in the Navy together, we did business together, and were dear friends. When Neale retired and I spoke at his retirement, I said he would have made the perfect Boy Scout and was the embodiment of the Scout code. ’On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey Scout law; to help people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.’”

Mr. Smith had been president for nearly two decades of the National Sugar Brokers Association, as his father had been from 1974 to 1976.

The Morning Sun

The Morning Sun

Daily

Get your morning news in your e-mail inbox. Get all the top news and sports from the baltimoresun.com.

In addition to being an inveterate fan of Johns Hopkins football and lacrosse and devoted to St. Paul’s School, Mr. Smith was an avid collector of vintage model trains, especially Lionel Standard Gauge trains, which dated to the 1920s and 1930s. He also had two operating layouts in the basement of his home.

And because of his fascination with trains, his grandchildren gave him the nickname of “Chooch,” family members said.

He was also a jazz fan.

Advertisement

“He and I both loved jazz from New Orleans to the Swing Era,” Mr. Darrell recalled. “I remember the time we drove through a snowstorm in Virginia to attend a Louis Armstrong concert. We were discussing it one day and I said I wanted ‘A Closer Walk With Thee’ played at my funeral, and Neale said he wanted the ‘One O’Clock Jump’ played at his, and I think Joan is going to do it.”

A former resident of Caves Road in Owings Mills, Mr. Smith was a past president of the Rotary Club of Baltimore and a member of the Maryland Club, L’Hirondelle Club and the Wednesday Club. He was a founding member of Church of the Resurrection, an Anglican church, on Greenspring Avenue.

A celebration-of-life service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday in the St. Paul’s Schools at 11152 Falls Road in Brooklandville.

In addition to his wife of 51 years, a Roland Park Country School educator, and his son, Mr. Smith is survived by his daughter, Heather H. Smith of New York City; a stepbrother, Thomas Caskey of Towson; three sisters, Stephany Harper of Pinehurst, Hope Pollard of Homeland and Henrietta Lausten of North Plains, Oregon; and four granddaughters.


Advertisement