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Dr. Laurence Cortelyou Smith, Jr.

- January 25, 2019

Laurence Cortelyou Smith, Jr., husband of Debra Smith, was born in Canaan, Connecticut on November 4, 1934, to Loretta Donsbough Smith and Laurence C. Smith. He died after a lengthy battle with cancer on January 25, 2019 in Arvada, Colorado.   He was a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in Denver and Cedaredge, Colorado and San Antonio, Texas for over 50 years.  Laurence (“Larry” or “Topper”) received his B.A. degree from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and his Master’s and Doctorate from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. 

 Larry joined the Air Force in 1961 and relocated to San Antonio, Texas.  While there, Larry was commissioned to Brook’s Air Force base and worked closely with the NASA astronaut selection program for the selection of the Apollo and Gemini astronauts. He was also stationed at Lackland Air Force Base where he was on the psychological team at Wilford Hall who was assigned to screen airmen to determine their eligibility for assignment to nuclear aircraft. He was president of the Texas Psychological Association (TPA) and helped to develop the licensure requirements for Clinical Psychologists in Texas; he holds the first license issued for Clinical Psychologists in that state. He touched the lives of so many people in his profession and was loved by many. 

 Larry loved most sports and was an avid ski racer and basketball player, both of which he engaged in for his entire life. He was inducted to the Housatonic Valley Regional High School Hall of fame in 2014. He was a Senior Olympics silver medalist in the Giant Slalom and was a Senior Olympian in Basketball. He played with the same basketball team, “Over the Rim”, for 21 years (1993-2014).  

 He was a lover of wildlife, nature, writing and traveling. He had published a book, The Nature of Human Feelings, and believed his life’s work would live on through his writings. He has a website dedicated to his written poetry that is translated into both Spanish and French. He had traveled all over the world in his life including China, Thailand, Hungary & Italy. He especially loved Saint Martin and the Caribbean and spent several weeks a year there sharing his love with the people native to the Caribbean islands.  

Larry loved his family and considered his children some of the greatest accomplishments in his life. Larry was predeceased by his mother and father and great-grandson Jonathan Brown.  He is survived by his wife Debra Smith; his former wife Mary Smith; his brother Peter (Agneta), New Canaan, CT;  his children,  Deborah Smith (Longmont, CO);  Dion Turner (Kim), New Braunfels, TX;  Pamela Wacha (Dennis), Berthoud, CO; Theresa Voltmann (Tim), Westfield, NY;  Laurence Smith (Amy), Durango, CO; Michelle McHugh (Joe), Ft. Collins, CO; Laurie Balliett, Taos, NM;  Christopher Smith (Melissa) Arvada, CO; Heather Holbrook (John), Suwanee, GA;  Brandon Gray, (Jennifer) Loganville, GA.  He is also survived by 18 grandchildren, 7 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great grandchild. He will be remembered, missed and loved by all of us who he leaves behind.  


25 Responses

  1. Leslie Komet Ausburn says:

    My condolences to you and your family on the loss of your father. He sounds like he was an amazing man. My thoughts are with you during this sad time.

  2. Scott Robbins says:

    My heartfelt condolences go out to the entire Smith clan. As I reflect on my experiences with Larry, the first thought that comes to mind is an absolutely spectacular pot of mussels we shared in Marigot, St. Maartens. We ate and ate and ate. As I recall, we shared more than a few rum punches together on that trip as well. It is a fitting metaphor for his life. Larry was “all in” in all that he did, whether it was driving a beloved Saab at breakneck speed up Vail Pass, running through airports to catch a flight to the next town, or popping 3-pointers with his basketball team. Larry was fully invested in all that he did. I admire that greatly! Rest in Peace, Larry.

  3. Nancy Lehde says:

    Dr. Smith’s family,
    I am saddened to learn of Dr Smith’s passing. He was so understanding during a troublesome time in my life, and was so very supportive. My prayers and thoughts are with you all during this most difficult time.
    Nancy Lehde

  4. Scott Newell says:

    Larry has been my mentor, advisor and friend for 47 years. When I was 33 and going through some life challenges, it was very difficult for me to go to a “shink” I believed that it was some kind of weakness and I only brought myself to going to Larry the first time by thinking that during my university years i had never studied Psychology and now that I could afford it, I could use this experience as if it were a university course.

    Of course, after I got started learning and applying life lessons to my own life, I started to believe that everyone can better understand them selves and their relationships through learning the kinds of lessons that Larry not only taught with words but with his life example.

    It is not only me, but all of the people with whom i have had relationships who benefited from Larry’s wisdom and ability to share..

    In particular, I express the gratitude of my children, all of whom know that have been and am a better father because of lessons learned.

    My life is different and much better because of Larry and I love him and his family who helped him be the person that he was.

    Scott Newell

  5. Ellie Lardon says:

    Larry Smith was my advocate, counselor, and friend for over 50 years. Supportive, patient and kind, his laugh was contagious and his heart was large. Years might pass, but we could pick up any conversation as if we had just set it aside. His energy and outreached hand touched so many lives. He enriched my life and the lives of those I love, and he made the world a better place for his presence in it. I will be at the service today in Colorado in spirit. We both loved those mountains so very much.
    Blessings and peace to his family. Ellie Lardon

  6. Bob & Ellen Rice says:

    I sit here with tears in my eyes remembering Larry and our working relationship the 15 plus years that I knew him here in Cedaredge. A very kind and patient man. I enjoyed working on his house here. I know he missed living here the last year or so but now he is in a better world that is free of pain. We will meet again.
    Deb we feel your sorrow and we want you to know that if you need help here in Cedaredge we will be there for you.

    This is a poem I think Larry would have liked.

    O dear little cabin, I’ve loved you so long,
    And now I must bid you good-bye!
    I’ve filled you with laughter, I’ve thrilled you with song,
    And sometimes I’ve wished I could cry.
    Your walls they have witnessed a weariful fight,
    And rung to a won Waterloo:
    But oh, in my triumph I’m dreary to-night —
    Good-bye, little cabin, to you!

    Your roof is bewhiskered, your floor is a-slant,
    Your walls seem to sag and to swing;
    I’m trying to find just your faults, but I can’t —
    You poor, tired, heart-broken old thing!
    I’ve seen when you’ve been the best friend that I had,
    Your light like a gem on the snow;
    You’re sort of a part of me — Gee! but I’m sad;
    I hate, little cabin, to go.

    Below your cracked window red raspberries climb;
    A hornet’s nest hangs from a beam;
    Your rafters are scribbled with adage and rhyme,
    And dimmed with tobacco and dream.
    “Each day has its laugh”, and “Don’t worry, just work”.
    Such mottoes reproachfully shine.
    Old calendars dangle — what memories lurk
    About you, dear cabin of mine!

    I hear the world-call and the clang of the fight;
    I hear the hoarse cry of my kind;
    Yet well do I know, as I quit you to-night,
    It’s Youth that I’m leaving behind.
    And often I’ll think of you, empty and black,
    Moose antlers nailed over your door:
    Oh, if I should perish my ghost will come back
    To dwell in you, cabin, once more!

    How cold, still and lonely, how weary you seem!
    A last wistful look and I’ll go.
    Oh, will you remember the lad with his dream!
    The lad that you comforted so.
    The shadows enfold you, it’s drawing to-night;
    The evening star needles the sky:
    And huh! but it’s stinging and stabbing my sight —
    God bless you, old cabin, good-bye!
    Robert William Service

  7. Michelle & John Spain says:

    I have such fond memories of Mr. Smith from growing up with Michelle. Some of my best memories were made possible by him when we stayed at the house in Blackhawk. Love & prayers to the whole family. You were blessed with an amazing man.

  8. Patricia Delorey says:

    I would like to express my deepest condolences for your tremendous loss. When I think of Larry I will always be be reminded of his kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity. Your family and all of us have lost a beautiful soul.

  9. Debbie Clark Benedict says:

    Topper Smith, oh how my dad, Warren Clark, greatly talked about you at HVRHS and at Camp Workcoeman. He had nothing but praises for you and your brother Pete. Looks like you went on from Canaan and gathered many more accomplishments and admirers in your book of life. I can just imagine how sad it is for your family because you were so loved in your younger years too.

  10. Mary Nourie says:

    Having worked for Larry over 38 years, we developed a very close friendship. He will forever be remembered, and it was so wonderful to see how much he loved Deb….I saw so many highs and lows in his life, but Deb brought so much happiness to him. What a blessing. You will forever be missed, my friend, but never ever forgotten. May you rest in peace and may the loving arms of our Father cradle you forever. I will never forget you.

  11. Adam says:

    I hope you have many good memories to cherish and carry you forward.

  12. Stephanie Stallings says:

    Lawrence Smith was someone I looked up to, and I am saddened to hear of his passing. Dr Smith and his wife have both made huge impacts on my family and our quality of life.
    Lawrence changed the fate of my son Ethan’s life. He has Aspergers and had many troubles with suicidal thoughts, making friends and feeling accepted. Dr Smith worked with him one on one over that summer, and he was really the only one able to really connectt with my boy. My son loves life, and is grateful to Dr Smith for his friendship. Dr Smith and his insightful messages are still talked about around our dinner table.
    His wife, Debbie, also saved my life and the life of my unborn son, Tommy, 15 years ago. I owe so much to you both, and I will spend the rest of my life sharing goodness and light with those in need as you have done. Your family is in my prayers. 💛☀️💛 We love you.

  13. roz adair says:

    Doctor Smith,,, I was your patient when I was 19 years old and now I am 71,,, You saved my life and were my life long friend,, I will always love you dearly and deeply.

  14. Carrol Mick says:

    Dr. Smith was the first psychologist that my husband spoke with in 2008 after he could no longer work due to being stabbed in the heart by a homeless man in 1994. Because of his compassion my husband was able to accept that it was okay to just be himself and it was not his fault nor laziness that was the reason he could no longer work. He helped him tremendously and I will forever be grateful! Sorry for your loss. His values are living on in my husband being able to be okay now.

  15. Amy Mares says:

    Mr. Smith,

    May you soar on eagles wings watching over your family with love and pride. Your legacy will remain and grow each day through the love of your family. Rest in peace free of pain, in eternal happiness.
    My thoughts and prayers are with the Smith Family. I am so very sorry for your loss. Hold onto the happy times, fun memories and love you shared to help you through this difficult time.
    Peace be with you all,
    Amy Mares

  16. Sandi Applegate says:

    Larry made such a difference in my life. He helped me find my way as a lost teenager and stayed present in my life for 44 years. He believed in me, which helped me believe in myself.
    He loved you so Deb and all his kids and family. He will always be in my heart.
    Love and prayers for all of his family.

  17. Casey Stauber says:

    I had the pleasure of knowing Larry through his association with my mother in San Antonio, Rosemary Stauber, Phd. I was also very fortunate to be able to help him for a time with his website, and publishing his remarkable writings on said website. Larry was a true bright light in this world, and I am blessed to have known him. He soars now!! (Say hi to mo and dad for me, Larry!)

  18. Billi Jo Nichols says:

    Dr. Smith was such a wonderful, kind man. So blessed to say I knew him and been able to have some great conversations with him. He will be missed. My prayers and thoughts are with his family.

  19. Kim Grace-Kasinger says:

    Larry, was a great man!!! When I think of the people I have come to know in my lifetime…he will always be one of my favorites. He was a kind and gentle soul and truly and deeply cared for all people. I was lucky to have crossed his path and considered him a friend. He will be missed beyond words.

  20. Blair Wacha says:

    Larry always had big dreams, followed by a plan to get there. Some of my most memorable times were years ago hiking and surveying South Table Mesa near Golden with Christopher and Shawn. He was always appreciative of help and always had a desire to help those around him. His death is a big loss in my life, for sure.

  21. Tammy Francis says:

    Larry was a wonderful person to work with. Cedaredge will mourn with you. God Bless

  22. Patricia A Michael says:

    We the trustee’s of the town of Cedaredge will miss Larry.

  23. Diana Swindle says:

    Larry will be missed greatly. He is the best man I’ve ever known. He helped me through my PTSD and helped me in more ways than anyone will ever know. Finding you was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Larry you are loved and will be missed. Diana

  24. Bob and Debbie Hillyer says:

    Larry will be missed. He was a great man. So grateful he was part of our lives. Praying for family and friends

  25. Brandy and Greyson says:

    Thoughts and prayers with family and friends, he was a great man and loved to help other.