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In Memory

James Smith



A Seagull Will Wait...
An Eulogy for James A. Smith
Next summer, down Surrey way on the coast of Maine, a seagull will wait, pace, wait, squawk, wait, cock its head, wait.  Eventually it will fly off to forage for itself, for Jim will not be there to feed it.  Jim will not return to his beloved Maine coast.
Jim, James Albert Smith, was born the youngest of eleven children on a salt water farm.  He was educated at the University of Maine and taught at nearby Ellsworth High School.  After a few years itchy feet, perhaps encouraged by sea captain brothers and brothers-in-law, led him to accept a year's teaching assignment in Argentina as a Fulbright Scholar.  Longing for the sound of fog horns and pine trees sighing in the wind, Jim returned to the Ellsworth/Surrey area. 
Once again Jim felt his feet itching and he departed for Seoul, Korea.  Seoul American High School was in its infancy, just one year old, when "the old baster,' as he was lovingly called by his students, settled in to prepare seniors for college.  "Remember the Maine" was lettered on the front of his podium and year after year cocky seniors squirmed nervously under his piercing stare and sarcastic wit.  Being called Dummie Lummie by the old baster became a badge of honor to be worn proudly by a deserving senior.
For what was to be one-third of his seventy-five year life, Jim coaxed, wheedled and demanded the best from his students in senior English.  A composition each week was required as well as more than a nodding acquaintance with British literary greats.  For ten months each year Jim prepared SAHS seniors for their futures; the remaining two months he spent on his beloved Maine coast.
In June of 1985 Jim retired from teaching.  Winters were spent in Florida, summers in Maine.  In both places calls and letters from former students continued to be received.  To the end Jim was remembered by his Dummie Lummies.
Next summer, down Surrey way on the coast of Maine, a seagull will wait....
Arline J. O'Brien
As printed in the December 1990 issue of the Seoul American High School Paper.  James A. Smith died in December of 1990.  He had taught English at Seoul American High School from the fall of 1960 to the spring of 1985.

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07/10/10 02:05 PM #1    

Keith Hodges (1967)

Mr Smith with Arline Monroe O'Brien

06/07/11 11:54 AM #2    

Carol Boyle (Milder) (1980)

Brother Brian ('79) and I were both in Mr. Smith's English class (the same year) in 1979- he scared the ____ out of us both- but we certainly learned a gret deal from him! He (in retrospect- cause if you had a nick-name, you knew he liked you-or at least didn't not like you!!)- called us "Boylieboy" and "Boyliegirl"- and we still laugh about that- 30 years later..... RIP.

01/30/22 08:53 AM #3    

Greg Jones (1969)

Mr Smith was without a doubt the best teacher I ever had... and having earned a couple of graduate degrees I have had MANY teachers. He was demanding but very fair. The format of his classes, both junior and senior year, was brilliant pedagogy. Weekly vocabulary words to be recorded, discussed, learned/memorized. A book a week to be read. A theme a week to be written. Weekly oral presentations, either themes or book reports. I thought it rough, difficult, at the time, but was so grateful when in college I sailed through freshman comp, and was able to read and analyze class materials while my peers stumbled.

After graduating in 1969 I was fortunate to return to Korea several times. While Mr Smith was still at SAHS I always made a point of visiting him. Despite the many students Mr Smith had taught he remembered me, recalled my circle of friends, and even  some stories about us.

Looking back, I think that Mr Smith was a legend in his own time. These days when I talk with old friends from my years at SAHS it's obvious that he remains a legend.






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