It was very sad to see in the Globe and Mail today an obituary for Rowland Smith, father of novelist Russell Smith, who was an English professor and dean of the faculty of humanities at the University of Calgary. I met him only once. During my tenure last year as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta, I headed south for the annual writer-in-residence trade reading in the spring, meeting up with Sina Queyras and her lovely partner, as well as Dean Smith and his wife Anna for dinner, beforehand. How long was it, before I realized who they were parents to? Far too long, really. While I was in Calgary, the Smiths were lovely and gracious hosts, and I found them both to be wonderfully open, engaged, playful and extremely intelligent. I not only convinced Smith to come out after the reading to have drinks with us, but we sang songs in the pub (it wasn't hard to imagine this man, epitome of style and grace, would know both appropriate and inappropriate drinking songs) and we even managed to close the place, being but two of the four left of our dwindling group.
I was very taken with both of them. I only met him once, and I even miss him. I can't even imagine what his community of friends, peers and family must be going through. A memorial service for Rowland Smith happened a few days ago.