Joseph G. Smoot, better known as Grady, died recently at the age of 85 leaving a legacy of numerous contributions to history, education and philanthropy. Grady came to Pittsburg in 1984, after being born in Florida, raised in Tennessee, educated in the south, and having a successful early career in Maryland and Michigan as an educator and author. Grady resided in Pittsburg until his death earlier this month. During that time, his energy and enthusiasm left many accomplishments to the Pittsburg community. A former Morning Sun Patrick’s People article quoted Grady as saying, “I’m a great believer in philanthropy. It’s been my life”.
While living in Pittsburg, he was the Vice President of Development and Public Affairs at Pittsburg State University. During that time, he organized the PSU Foundation, established the public radio station KRPS, founded the University Magazine, and created a substantial endowment fund for University operations. He brought one of America’s finest concert organs to the campus and provided funding for numerous building and renovation projects. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the University campus was a special project to him. After retirement, he returned as Assistant to the President of Pittsburg State University and vice president emeritus.
In 1994, he became a Director of Gold Bank Pittsburg and served for nine years in that capacity. In 1999, the Pittsburg City Commission appointed him to a four-year term to the Pittsburg Public Library Board of Trustees where he became a founder of the PPL Foundation in 2000 and its president in 2004. The Pittsburg City Commission appointed him to a second four-year term to the Board of Trustees in 2003. In 2001, he became a founder of the Pittsburg Area Community Foundation, now the Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas, and served on its Board of Trustees.
We at the CFSEK are grateful to Grady for his role as a founder of the foundation 17 years ago and for his role in philanthropy and the development of many things ‘good and great’ in our community. Gordon Elliott, former founder and trustee member who served with Grady on the Pittsburg Area Community Foundation board, commented, “We of course all looked to Grady for his expertise when we set up the structure for the foundation. He was always affable, helpful and a pleasure to be with. Grady’s obituary outlined many of his achievements in Pittsburg and helping to establish our Community Foundation was one of the important ones. I was fortunate to work with Grady on a number of occasions so I got a clear picture of the impact he had on our Foundation and the community.”
If not for people like Grady, much to be done would still be in front of us instead of already accomplished.