Bert Pendleton Smith, a retired University of Baltimore graphic arts teacher who collected postcards and used them in several books, died of acute myeloid leukemia Oct. 24 at his Staunton, Virginia, home. The former Hampden resident was 76.
Born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and raised in Dickeyville, he was the son of Bert Page Smith, a Whitman Requardt and Associates mechanical engineer, and his wife, Kathryn Lee, a homemaker.
After attending the Robert E. Lee School, No. 49, he went on to graduate from Baltimore City College in 1961. As a high school student he drew and did design work.
He joined the Marine Corps in 1964. According to a family biography, Mr. Smith was named Outstanding Man of his recruit platoon at Parris Island, South Carolina, and was also the Outstanding Marksman before being promoted to private first class.
He took basic infantry training at Camp Geiger, North Carolina, and later served at Camp Lejeune, where he did practice amphibious assaults, helicopter landings, mapping, demolition, and information gathering.
He was later assigned to Spain, Italy, Corsica, Turkey, France, Sardinia, Majorca, Norway, Portsmouth and London.
In 1965, he was assigned to a NATO Recon operation off the coast of southern France and received a secret clearance in 1966. He received a letter of commendation from the undersecretary of the Navy and was promoted to sergeant before leaving military service in 1970.
He met his future wife, Anthea Hailey, while she was working for the old Read’s drug store headquarters on Gwynns Falls Parkway.
“He looked young and I thought he was dodging the draft, but I was soon told he was 25 and had been a Marine for six years,” she said.
After their marriage in 1974 they left Baltimore and set up a design studio, Red Wing Graphics, in Hope, Arkansas, for two years.
They returned and bought a home on Chestnut Avenue in Hampden. He joined WJZ-TV as a news graphic designer and won praise for his work in the 1974 election.
He later became a book designer at Waverly Press and studied nights and weekends at a new publication design program at the University of Baltimore. In 1985 he was hired as a faculty member in that program and taught until he retired in 2012.
He won awards from the New York Art Directors Club, Print Magazine, the American Institute of Graphic Design, Graphic Design USA, and the Printing Industries of America.
Mr. Smith began collecting postcards as a child and developed it into a lifelong passion.
“[He] relieved the boredom of long summer auto trips to the Ozarks by buying colorful picture postcards in wayside diners, lunchrooms and motels where his family stopped,” said a 1996 Sun article. “'My father liked greasy spoons and diners and there was always a pretty good selection of postcards available in them.'” he said.
Mr. Smith said that he continued his postcard hobby in the military. He did not have much money for souvenirs, and the cards were an easy fit in his sea bag.
He later established a large collection of old Baltimore cards.
“No place in America quite looks like Baltimore with its mixture of architecture. There is so much here. A quick walk up Charles Street takes you from the modern architecture of Mies van der Rohe, and in the next block you’re looking at buildings from the Beaux Arts period," he said in 1996.
Mr. Smith thought of postcards as “folk art” and said he preferred the cheaper, linen-texture versions with their bold hues of yellows and oranges, expressive of the Streamline Age. He was a regular attender at postcard shows in York, Pennsylvania, and in Havre de Grace.
He said his favorite card was of the Bromo-Seltzer Tower.
In 1996 he and his wife collaborated on a book, “Greetings from Baltimore.” They also created “Down the Ocean: Postcards from Maryland and Delaware Beaches” in 1999 and “A Day on the Bay: Postcard Views of the Chesapeake Bay” in 2001. They were published by the Johns Hopkins Press.
He was planning another postcard book showing the evolution of images of Santa Claus.
Mr. Smith and his wife bought and refurbished a Chestnut Avenue home, part of a row constructed in the 19th century on a steep Jones Falls Valley hill.
“Walk into the Hampden home of Bert and Anthea Smith and it’s surprisingly like a beach house,” said a Sun article. “The rooms are bright and airy, the wooden floors are white, and the walls are painted in warm pastels of adobe pink, pale sea green, and periwinkle. Completing the beach motif are the sea shells and beach stones that grace the mantels and shelves.”
Mr. Smith build bookshelves in the home and did much of its interior painting.
In 2014 he and his wife moved to Staunton in the Shenandoah Valley.
In addition to his wife of 45 years, a painter and gallery director, survivors include a sister, Kathryn Page Morgan of Ocala, Florida, and a niece, Kathryn Lee Morgan of Baltimore.