October 21, 1928 — April 23, 2019
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Reverend Harold Watson Smith was born on Oct. 21, 1928 in Hackensack, New Jersey, and died on April 23, 2019 in Saratoga Springs. His father, the Reverend Dr. Harold Norman Smith, and his mother, Lou Watson Smith, were natives of Virginia.
Because Harold’s father served as an ordained elder in the Northern New Jersey Annual Conference of the Methodist Church, Harold and his sister Dorothy spent their earliest years in Methodist parsonages in Hillsdale and Elizabeth, New Jersey. In 1946, Harold’s father was appointed District Superintendent and the family moved to Englewood, New Jersey. Here Harold served as president of both the local YMCA and Methodist Youth organizations and attended Dwight Morrow High School, where he was elected president of the high school in his senior year.
Harold attended Princeton University for three years, where he was a tenor soloist in the Princeton Glee Club and the Robert Shaw Chorale, and then transferred to his father’s alma mater, Randolph Macon College, where he finalized his undergraduate degree. During his college years, Harold was director of a summer YMCA day camp in New Jersey. Harold later earned a Master of Divinity at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and became himself an ordained elder in the Northern New Jersey Annual Conference of the Methodist Church.
In 1952, Harold married Camilla Parlin of Englewood, New Jersey (both Harold and Camilla were students at Union Theological Seminary) and Harold began serving as assistant pastor in the Hasbrouck Heights Methodist Church.
Upon graduation from Union Seminary, Harold took his first pastorate in Towaco, New Jersey. Harold served on the Board of Ministerial Training and Qualifications for the Newark Annual Conference. In this capacity he served as director of many conference summer youth retreats. Harold was also a delegate to the World Methodist Council.
In 1965, Harold took sabbatical leave to study theology in Tübingen, Germany. Camilla and their four children accompanied him.
Returning to the United States in 1966, Harold took a position as ecumenical chaplain at SUNY Delhi Agricultural and Technical College in Delhi. Harold and his co-chaplain, Father Edward Ryan, were involved in the University Christian Movement, and Harold was elected secretary of the national board, and he also served a term as president of the Delhi Board of Education. During his Delhi College years, Harold taught world religion and was soloist in Norman Luboff’s African Mass. Harold also served a term as president of the Board of Education for the local high school, headed the Delaware County Council of Churches and served on the Board of Morristown College in Tennessee.
In these years, he participated in theatrical productions both at the college and with the Orpheus Theater community playhouse in Oneonta. He took leading roles in Man of LaMancha, South Pacific and You Can’t Take It with You. He played supporting roles in Damn Yankees and Guys and Dolls.
After his return from sabbatical leave in Korea, in 1981, Harold became a marriage and family councilor and minister at large for the Delaware County Council of Churches. He also served interim pastorates in the United Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational Churches of Walton.
Harold and Camilla both retired in 1990, and moved to Saratoga Springs, where they became active members of the United Methodist Church and the YMCA as well as avid enthusiasts of SPAC. Harold and Camilla were married 66 years.
Harold is survived by his wife, Camilla Parlin Smith; and their four children, Hyla Smith Skudder (Chris) of Westerville, Ohio, Heather Smith Xie Esq. (Dr. Xie Yong) of Hong Kong, H. Nathan Smith (Ina Witek) of Leipzig, Germany and the Reverend Stephen Blackwood Smith (Theresa) of Malone; and ten grandchildren.
Harold will be remembered as a beloved son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, uncle and friend. Harold’s passion for ecumenical unity, social justice, the care for and healing of precious souls, the promotion of excellence in sacred music and the arts, his dream for world peace, his enjoyment of fine dining, his good-natured competitiveness on the tennis court, basketball court and golf links, his wit and charm, his indomitable optimism, his humble gratitude, his inexpressible devotion to and undying gratitude toward his wife, Camilla, and his lively hope in the resurrection will live on and will continue to reach others in and through all of us privileged and blessed to have known this great man.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts should be made to the United Methodist Church of Saratoga Springs or the YMCA of Saratoga.
A celebration of life service will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 30, at the United Methodist Church, 175 Fifth Ave., Saratoga Springs.
Arrangements are under the direction of the William J. Burke & Sons/Bussing & Cunniff Funeral Homes, 628 North Broadway, Saratoga Springs (518-584-5373).