American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Macauley Letchfield Smith, 1905-1993

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1995



Macauley Letchfield Smith was born in Louisville, Kentucky on March 10, 1905 and died on August 23, 1993. He graduated from Philips Academy Andover and received degrees from Yale and from the Harvard Law School. He was a member of the United States Track Team in the Olympics in 1928. We were married in 1930. From 1942 to 1946, he was an officer in the Air Force, ending as Lieutenant Colonel. He served as a judge in the Jefferson Circuit Court Chancery Branch from 1952 to 1963 and again from 1970 to 1975.

Macauley loved mountains to climb, the Tetons, woodland walks, the Smokies, country roads, Ireland, Romanesque churches, France. His European climbing was in Switzerland with his sister Ann Smith Monks. With Jim Cooley, he climbed in the Tetons in 1932. Later, he climbed also in the Tetons, with Bill House, Bob Bates and my sister Betsy Cowles Partridge, with whom he made one of the early ascents of the east ridge, and with Paul Petzoldt and Glenn Exum.

He loved his friends, he loved his dogs; high marks for dogs, they don’t talk. He loved chamber music before his ears failed him. He was renowned for his gifts of brown-bagged mushrooms, delivered at doorsteps throughout the county with devoted regularity. We acquired our farm, Blackacre, in 1950. This increasingly served as a haven for musicians on their arduous concert circuits. As the land became more beautiful, we felt ourselves stewards, not owners of this property. Macauley walked at Blackacre, sometimes twice a day, before his legs gave out. These “trudges,” as he called them, were essential to Macauley’s spirit during his last years.

Emilie Strong Smith

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