|January 29, 1938 - February 10, 2016
Roland Mark Smith, 78, of Rogers, Arkansas, passed away February 10, 2016,
in restful peace at Circle of Life Legacy Village in Bentonville, Arkansas,
attended by his wife, son, and pastor. He was born January 29, 1938, in
Chicago Heights, Illinois, to Robert Elmer and Mary Elizabeth Sanders Smith.
Roland enthusiastically pursued four passions—his awe and love of our Lord
and Savior Jesus Christ, the joy of his wife and family, a lifelong devotion to
teaching and learning, and his celebration of hearing and performing music.
Roland was an only child, born to a household with little financial means, but
rich in love and faith. His mother, a schoolteacher, and his father, a die and tool
maker, shared a deep belief in the power of education to transform lives, a value
that shaped Roland’s entire life.
Mindful of the sacrifices of his parents, Roland considered it an aspirational
privilege to attend Wheaton College in Illinois, home to the Billy Graham Center,
where he graduated from the Conservatory of Music. He went on to earn a
masters degree at the University of Illinois, and a doctorate degree in educational
administration at the University of Northern Colorado.
Much of his career, Roland served in school leadership in the suburban Chicago
area, including 15 years as superintendent of Plainfield schools. Roland was
passionate about ensuring strong learning opportunities for all students regardless
of background, and he worked tirelessly as their advocate. He did not seek
recognition, but the fruits of his labor were celebrated as Executive Educator of
the Month by that periodical, Honored Alumnus Award from the University of
Northern Colorado, and recognition of school board excellence by the U.S.
Senate, which allowed him a short visit by sitting President Ronald Reagan.
Upon his retirement in Illinois, Roland was delighted to be immersed in warm
community hospitality in moving to Arkansas. Roland served as superintendent
of schools of Rogers from 1993-99 and then appointed to serve in Greenland by
the State Commissioner of Education from 2008-10. He also served as interim
superintendent in Pea Ridge. Serving the students in these wonderful
communities energized him, and he spoke highly of the families he came to
know and love.
Following a narrow escape from a powerful tornado in 1990, Roland shifted his
focus from master educator to teaching mentor. He taught leadership classes for
principals and future superintendents at the Graduate School of Education at the
University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, and then served as the founding Dean of
Education at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. In these roles, he felt
blessed to present leadership papers to fellow educators around the world,
including presentations in Japan, South Africa, Greece, and Wales. In his last
years, Roland took great pleasure in mentoring younger superintendents one-on-
Roland was active throughout his life in service organizations, including Lions,
Kiwanis, and Rotary Club. He was also an accomplished trumpeter, playing the
lead part in Handel’s Messiah more than 20 years for the Illiana Oratorio
Society. He also enjoyed touring with the vocal group Singing Men of Arkansas,
where the prison outreach program especially touched him. Young at heart,
Roland enjoyed sunrise walks on the beach and occasional visits to Disney
World, with or without grandchildren.
Roland is survived by his wife of 53 years, Bernice Annette De Vries Smith of
Rogers, a retired schoolteacher; two sons, David Smith and wife, Heidi, of
Bentonville, Daniel Smith and wife, Demra, of Fayetteville; two daughters,
Debra Smith of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, Denise Smith of Rogers; five grandchildren,
Nora, Hope, Gabriel, Janel and Eliana Smith and many colleagues and friends.
Roland often said all our days on this earth are a precious gift, and he held
dearly to a Kingdom vision of bringing glory only to our Lord. Remembering his
days at Wheaton, Roland often recalled two phrases as a source of
encouragement and focus: Doing all things “For Christ and His Kingdom”; and
that as Christians we carry ourselves “Not Somehow, but Triumphantly.”
Visitation will be from 2 to 6 p.m., Sunday, February 14, 2016, at the BiLD
Training Center at Fellowship Bible Church.
Funeral services will be at 11 a.m., Monday, February 15, 2016, at the BiLD
Training Center at Fellowship Bible Church with Pastor John Barclay
officiating. Private burial will be in Pinnacle Memorial Gardens.
Memorials may be made in memory of Dr. Roland Smith to Wheaton College,
501 College Ave., Wheaton, IL 60187; the missionary funds of Fellowship Bible
Church, 1051 W. Pleasant Grove Rd, Rogers, AR 72758; or Rehoboth Christian
School, P.O. Box 41, Rehoboth, NM 87322.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Stockdale-Moody Funeral Services of
Rogers. Words of comfort may be shared at stockdalefuneral.com.
|Copyright 2015 Stockdale-Moody Funeral Services, 2898 West Walnut, Rogers, Arkansas 72756 479-631-1353
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