Reger C. Smith, Jr. (1954-2008)

Reger C. Smith, Jr., 54, an associate communication director for the 16-million member Seventh-day Adventist church, died in the early morning hours of May 8, at his home in Silver Spring, not far from the church's world headquarters. His death followed a lengthy illness.

Smith spent over 27 years – more than half his life – in service to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, beginning in Battle Creek, Michigan, and including a public relations position at what is now known as The Specialty Hospital of Washington - Hadley in southwest Washington, D.C., which was once owned by Adventist Health. He held similar positions at Hackettstown Community and Shady Grove Adventist Hospitals, both part of the Adventist Health system. From 1998 to 2001, he was employed at the church-owned Review and Herald Publishing Association in Hagerstown; since 2001, Smith served at the world headquarters, having been reelected to his position in 2005.

"In Reger we're losing a colleague, but we're also losing a friend," Rajmund Dabrowski, General Conference communication director, said. "Reger made the communication team and Adventist communication stronger because of his enormous talent and commitment," Dabrowski added.

A talented musician, composer, arranger, and singer who performed with the church-connected Breath of Life quartet and the Heritage Singers, a contemporary Christian group, Smith was the lyricist for the official song of the church's 2005 world business session, which drew 70,000 people to St. Louis, Missouri. The song, entitled,  "Jesus Christ How We Adore You," was designed to portray "Christ's many facets as a provider, mentor, creator and redeemer," Smith told Adventist News Network at the time.

"I wanted the song to be an uplifting praise song and at the same time one of worship and adoration," said Smith in the ANN piece.

Smith, had an extensive musical background playing piano, singing and directing groups and choirs, and was, for several years, music minister at Breath of Life Seventh-day Adventist Church in Fort Washington, Maryland.

"The thing with Reger is, there are many people with musical genius, but there are very few who have musical genius and a totally humble attitude," said J. Alfred Johnson II, Smith's former pastor at the Breath of Life Adventist Church and now a ministries director for the North America Division. Friends and colleagues remembered him as a dedicated family man who credited his creativity to God. "He was often times amazed at what would come out of his fingers on a keyboard," Johnson said. "He'd say, 'Oh, wow, Lord that was nice wasn't it? You really made some music here today.'"

Along with his musical accomplishments, Smith was a noted photographer and designer within the Seventh-day Adventist Church, having designed many periodicals and other publications, including Message magazine. He was the prime coordinator for the 2003 construction of a visitor's center at the world headquarters.

The self-exploring design of the exhibits – a timeline of church history, displays telling stories of church leaders and activities, and interactive computer kiosks – enable visitors to browse at their own pace. More than 7,000 people visit the church complex each year. From its main offices in Silver Spring, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, headquartered in the D.C. area since 1904, serves the spiritual needs of 16 million baptized members in 203 countries and territories of the world.

Delores, his wife, son Reger (Ross) Smith III and daughter Ruth Katherine (Katie), survive, along with sisters Marjorie Bates and Susan Smith and his parents, Mr. & Mrs. Reger C. Smith, Sr., of Berrien Springs, Michigan. An older sister, Meredith Dickerson, preceded him in death.

-Mark A. Kellner