Obituary: Hobart Muir Smith

By Staff

Hobart Smith, professor emeritus in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at CU-Boulder, died March 4, 2013, at his residence in the Villas at the Atrium in Boulder. He was 100.

He was born Sept. 26, 1912, in Stanwood, Iowa, and adopted at age 4. He earned a Ph.D. in 1936 at the University of Kansas (Lawrence) and became a prominent herpetologist credited with describing more than 100 new species of American reptiles and amphibians. He was honored by having at least five species named after him and having published more than 1,600 manuscripts and 29 books, including the popular Golden Guides to field identification of reptiles and amphibians in the U.S.

In 1938, he married Rozella Pearl Beverly Blood, who became not only the mother of their two children, Bruce and Sally, but a scientist/author in her own right. From 1941 until 1945 he was a zoology professor at the University of Rochester, in New York, after which he returned to the University of Kansas as an associate professor. In 1946 he taught wildlife management at Texas A&M University and wrote checklists and keys to snakes and amphibians of Mexico. From 1947 until 1968, he was a professor of zoology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, after which he retired and moved to Boulder, where he became a professor of biology at the University of Colorado. In 1972, he became chairman of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. In 1983, he became a professor emeritus and continued his personal research with his last publication in September 2012 on his 100th birthday. He has surpassed all contemporaries in number of publications and remains the most published herpetologist of all time.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Rozella, and is survived by his son, Bruce Smith of Lakewood, and daughter, Sally Nadvornik of Lawrence, Kan., as well as five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Services were Saturday at the First Presbyterian Church of Boulder. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the TRU Community Care Hospice of Boulder.