Deceased Name: Excalibur winner C. Gordon Smith dies
The philanthropist was working with wife Mary Ann on the Coronado project.
By MARK BONNE Rockford Register Star ROCKFORD - C. Gordon Smith, a well-known captain of local industry and philanthropist, died Wednesday, less than a month before the scheduled reopening of the Coronado Theatre, its $18.5 million restoration the latest and likely greatest of his many civic accomplishments. He was 67. Smith ran the former Smith Oil Co., headquartered on Kilburn Avenue, a family business until its sale in 1971. He also operated a foundry on North Main Street, another in Milwaukee and a realty company on Charles Street. Among many honors, Smith shared with wife Mary Ann the Rockford Register Star's prestigious Excalibur Award for community service in 1999. Diagnosed last year with Lyme disease, a tick-borne infection that attacks the nervous system, Smith was admitted Wednesday morning to the burn unit at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center. He died at 8:30 p.m., hospital spokeswoman Gerrie Gustafson said. A statement released by the family gave no further information. It thanked friends for their support during Smith's illness and quoted Mary Ann Smith as saying, "Gordy was beloved by so many people." Smith launched the campaign to refurbish and expand the Coronado in June 1999 with a $1.2 million gift from the Smith Charitable Foundation. But the fast-moving project largely became the work of his wife. The opulent 1920s movie palace is set to reopen with a $125-a-person black-tie gala Jan. 20 and "Lights On" concert featuring Broadway star and Boylan High School alum Marin Mazzie. An arts patron long before embarking on the theater restoration, Smith celebrated his 50th birthday in 1983 with a Gaelic ceilidh (CAY-lee) benefit that raised $100,000 to renovate the East High School auditorium. In 1992, Charles Box awarded the Smiths the fourth annual Mayor's Arts Award. He honored contributions to New American Theater, Riverfront Museum Park and Project Full House, which supplied low-cost tickets to arts performances. "This is a tragic loss," Box said in a statement. "Gordy will be deeply missed by those of us who valued his vision and leadership and his ability to turn dreams into reality." When he won the Excalibur, Smith cited his work on the YMCA board of directors as his most satisfying. During that time, extensive remodeling made the Y more handicapped-accessible, and Camp Winnebago gained a new lodge. Smith served on several organizational boards, including First Federal Savings and Loan Association and Rockford Memorial Hospital. Survivors include two sons and a daughter. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Rockford Register Star (IL) Date: December 28, 2000 Author: Mark Bonne Page: 7A Record Number: rck995053236256 Copyright (c) Rockford Register Star. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.