Joe was very humble about his accomplishments and contributions. When asked to explain how he had become so successful, he attributed it to his many very bright and hardworking graduate and postdoctoral students who “did the real work” and to his wife, Essie McCutcheon Smith, whose flexibility allowed him the freedom to pursue his teaching and research. With respect to Introduction to Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics, as noted above, Joe thought that he was simply in the right place at the right time. Could it be that some people are able to define the right place and the right time?
Joe and his wife endowed the Joe and Essie Smith Chair in Chemical Engineering in 1996 at UC Davis. The chair is dedicated to the support of outstanding young faculty members.
Joe is survived by his two daughters, Rebecca Conrad and Marsha Torbert; six grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and an untold number of academic children and grandchildren.