Visionary healthcare pioneer, committed pharmacist, and dedicated family man, Henry Dale Smith Sr., passes at age 87.
Henry Dale Smith Sr., 87, of Springfield, died peacefully on Saturday morning, Sept. 19, 2015, among family at home.
He was born Aug. 1, 1928, to James Matthew and Ethel Rickbiel Smith in Asheville, N.C. He married Betty Mood Smith on June 28, 1950, in Columbia, S.C.
He was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Beverly Smith Moss; and brother, James Matthew Smith, Jr.
Henry Dale is survived by his wife, Betty of Springfield; four sons: Henry Dale (Deborah Klang) Smith, Jr. of Springfield, Rogers (Mary Summers) Smith of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., J. Christopher (Debra Nickelson) Smith of Springfield, and Andrew (Joyce) Smith of Springfield; grandchildren: Virginia (Dan) Sole-Smith, Chandler (Eric Taxier) Klang Smith, Elizabeth Smith, Caroline Summers Smith, Lacy Smith, Callandria Nickelson Smith, Reed Rogers Smith, and Spencer Nickelson Smith; a great-granddaughter, Violet Upham-Smith; and several nieces and nephews.
Beginning his education at The Citadel in June of 1944, he started just weeks after his high school graduation. World War II dominated life then and, because South Carolina schools ended with the 11th grade and Smith had skipped one year, he was only 15 and too young for military service. So he chose the next best thing – a military school. Henry Dale earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from The Citadel and then a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Young family in tow, Henry Dale relocated to Springfield, Ill., where he would become a community leader and pioneer in pharmaceutical distribution. He founded H. D. Smith Wholesale Drug Co. in January of 1954. Like all entrepreneurs, Smith saw opportunity disguised as hard work. He focused on customer service and accuracy to capture the business of area drug stores. Growing the company from four associates in the Springfield area to 1,100 nationwide, he served as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors of H. D. Smith, and, most recently, served as its chairman emeritus. H. D. Smith is now the fourth-largest pharmaceutical wholesaler in the nation.
Additionally, he served as Vice President of Smith Drug in Spartanburg, S.C., and subsequently as chairman and CEO of J.M. Smith Corporation upon the death of his brother, James M. Smith, Jr. Henry Dale served in that capacity for 13 years. He then continued his service as a director of the company, retiring from the board as its longest serving member.
For decades, he served as an active member of the National Wholesale Druggists Association (NWDA). He received the Healthcare Distribution Management Association’s Nexus Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2003 for his contributions to the industry, his business acumen and his uncompromising integrity – qualities that also earned him induction into The Citadel School of Business Hall of Fame in 2011.
Henry Dale was active in the Springfield community as a volunteer and philanthropist, and an avid University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign supporter. The Betty Mood Smith Rockery rock garden, located in Springfield’s Washington Park, was a gift to his wife, celebrating her love of gardening. He was a Rotary Club member for more than 40 years. He also served as a deacon, elder and trustee at Westminster Presbyterian Church during his 60 years of membership.
In his spare time, he loved to root for his favorite sports teams as a huge Fighting Illini sports fan, as well as a fan of the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Bears.
Visitation: The family welcomes friends to join them for his visitation from 4-7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, at Boardman-Smith Funeral Home, 800 S. Grand Ave. West, Springfield.
Funeral Ceremony: The funeral will take place at 11 a.m., Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 533 S. Walnut St., Springfield with the Rev. Dr. Blythe Kieffer officiating.
Cremation will be accorded by Butler Cremation Tribute Center following ceremonies.
Private family inurnment will be held at Westminster Presbyterian Church Memorial Garden.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Mr. Smith’s honor can be made at several organizations that were near and dear to Mr. Smith and the Smith family: H. D. Smith Foundation, 3063 Fiat Ave., Springfield, IL 62703; Westminster Presbyterian Church, 533 S. Walnut St., Springfield, IL, 62704; or University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Athletics’ I FUND, 1700 S. Fourth St., Champaign, IL 61820 or online at
Please visit to offer your condolences.
Published in The State Journal-Register on Sept. 21, 2015
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Posted on: 2015-09-20

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