Dean F. Smith
Dean F. Smith
  • July 25, 1942 - May 7, 2017
  • Boulder, Colorado

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Dean Francis Smith
July 25, 1942 - May 7, 2017

Dean suffered cardiac arrest on May 3 and did not recover consciousness thereafter. He passed away on May 7. He was born in Los Angeles to Emmett and Mildred Smith, and his family later moved to Sunnyvale, CA. He attended MIT (B.S.) and received his PhD in astrophysics from Stanford in 1969. He married Zdenka (Kopal) fellow physicist, in 1967 in Prague. They spent his post-doc year in Moscow at the Sternberg Astronomical Institute.

Dean and Zdenka moved to Boulder in 1970. Dean worked at the High Altitude Observatory, then at CU, and later for Berkley Research Associates. He also trained at Morgan Stanley and worked briefly in finance before returning to science. He worked in NOAA's Environmental Technology Laboratory, then at CU's Department of Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering, where he was a member of the NOAA-CU Center for Environmental Technology. At both NOAA and CU he worked on complex modelling problems in environmental remote sensing, and at CU he often helped mentor students, providing career advice.

Dean was an avid mountain climber, and summited many peaks in Switzerland, Mt. Huntington in Alaska and others around the world. He soloed the Diamond face of Longs Peak until his late 60s. He loved hiking and camping in the summer and cross country skiing in the winter. Dean's other passion was fine wine. He traveled to Burgundy in France every summer to learn all aspects of viniculture and enology. He briefly made wine, under his label Boulder Cellars, before turning to importing and judging. He was a long-time member of the First Presbyterian congregation in Boulder and active on its committees, and was proud to volunteer in the ministry for the homeless.

Dean was proceeded in death by his siblings Bob an Arlene. He is survived by his wife Zdenka, his daughters Helena Shirai (Akira) of Boulder and Lara Smith Weber (Wolfram) of Munich, Germany and four grandchildren.

His memorial service will be Saturday, May 27 at 9 AM at First Presbyterian Church of Boulder. Contributions in memory of Dean may be made to Heifer International (

Arrangements under the direction of Crist Mortuary, Boulder, CO.