Robert B. Smith, a longtime local travel professional, died Jan. 4 of liver cancer. He was 62.
Smith was a native of Long Island, N.Y., and attained his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Georgetown University.
Dr. Clint Gould, a friend of Smith’s for more than 30 years, said that after graduation, Smith took a very different path from crunching numbers and instead became a flight attendant with Eastern Airlines.
Gould said Smith was enthralled by the lure of the travel industry, especially in the 1960s, as the gay community began to become more visible across the country.
“It was the glamour, the fun,” he said. “It was a really important time in the life of gay men, so he had a chance to travel the United States and see all of these different places and meet new people.”
Smith later took a position as a customer-service representative with Lufthansa German Airlines, a job that allowed him to live in Washington, D.C., New York City, Anchorage, Ala., and Philadelphia.
Gould said Smith, a member of the American Society of Travel Agents, loved the beach but not the ocean, and of all of his trips, seemed most impressed with the Caribbean, Germany and Scandinavia.
Once he settled in Philadelphia, where he lived most recently on Rodman Street, he worked for years at various travel companies in the area and spent the last 10 as the travel representative for engineering company Day & Zimmerman. He retired last year.
In addition to his passion for traveling, Smith was a crossword puzzle aficionado and was interested in nonfiction and spy novels.
Gould said some of his friend’s most defining characteristics may not sound overtly positive, but were endearing to those close to him.
“He was obstreperous, cantankerous and single-minded,” he said. “He was extremely strong-willed and had a very dry sense of humor. But he was generous to a fault.”
Smith passed away at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital’s VITAS Hospice in Darby, and memorial contributions in his name can be made to the hospice agency at 1740 Walton Road, Suite 100, Blue Bell, PA 19422.
Smith was cremated, and his ashes will be buried at sea.