Ray Smith started working at the Davey Expert Tree Co. when he was 16.
His first job?
“Learning how to climb a tree,” he said. “I started right from scratch.”
Smith climbed right up the ladder at Davey, from clearing power lines and transplanting big trees to regional vice president, his position when he retired in 1990 after more than 40 years with the national tree service company.
A survivor of pancreatic cancer (1998), Smith hung up his tree-climbing shoes long ago, but he still has a green thumb -- you can often find him in his back yard, tending to his flower and vegetable gardens. The Tonawanda, NY resident, whose teenage work experiences influenced his decision to major in forestry at ESF (class of ‘52), established a scholarship fund for undergrad students, named after him and his late wife, Rita. Smith also has arranged a bequest of at least $1 million to the scholarship.
“I think it’s a fantastic college, doing an absolutely wonderful job,” said Smith, whose nephew, Kevin G. Smith, earned his undergraduate degree at ESF. “And considering the way the environment is today, we need every one we can get on the job.”