R. Scudder Smith, who founded Antiques and The Arts Weekly in 1963 and who had been an impassioned presence in the field ever since, died Sunday, August 14. He was 87.
Smith’s family company has owned Bee Publishing Company Inc. and published The Newtown (Connecticut) Bee for 141 of its 145 years. Smith started at the paper in 1961; he succeeded his father, Paul Scudder Smith, as editor in 1972. On June 28, 2022 — the 145th anniversary of the first issue of The Newtown Bee’s publication — local luminaries and both of Connecticut’s U.S. Senators honored The Bee for its longevity, and celebrated Smith and his family’s love for and dedication to the community.
In 2006, the Antiques Dealers Association of America (ADA) honored Smith with its Award of Merit for his contribution to the industry.
Smith and his wife of 66 years, Helen, who survives, were ardent collectors who gravitated to folk sculpture, with weathervanes, game boards, whirligigs and carousel figures forming the core of their collection. His collection carried to the office, turning the newspaper’s headquarters into an extended, ever-evolving showcase of his acquisitions.
Smith built a formidable still bank collection, adding to it even from his hospital bed in his final days. He also enjoyed creating elaborate gardens designed with vintage structures and garden antiques.
Smith, who was known far and wide for wearing colorful bow ties, was remembered warmly by longtime Newtown Bee Editor Curtiss Clark, who worked alongside Smith for more than forty years.
“Now that he is gone, it is going to be hard to convince people he was not a fictional character,” Clark said in The Bee. “I’m sure I’ve already embellished a lot of his idiosyncrasies in my own memory. It seems so improbable that one man could be such an old-school gentleman, such a whippersnapper, so traditional, so flamboyant, so unable to tell a joke properly, and yet so consistently hilarious as Scudder was day-in-day-out."