Tribute to Russ Smithby Senator Thomas R. Carper
Posted on 2014-12-16
CARPER. Mr. President, on behalf of the Delaware
Delegation, I wish to honor the exemplary service of the superintendent
of the First State National Historical Park, Mr. Russell P. Russ Smith.
A native of New Castle, DE, and a devoted husband to his wife
Jacqueline, two sons and two grandchildren, Russ returned to Delaware
in May 2013 to cap his 42-year career with the National Park Service at
the First State National Historical Park.
Russ began working for the National Park Service shortly after earning a degree in American history from the University of Delaware. For the 10 years prior to his work in Delaware, he managed Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park in Fredericksburg, VA. His 28 years of field experience have included assignments at Prince William Forest Park, Fort Sumter National Monument, Independence National Historical Park, Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site and George Washington Birthplace National Monument.
In 11 years at Independence National Historical Park, Russ oversaw nearly 100 employees and was responsible for telling the park's great story in American history by planning interpretive programs, creating museum and outdoor exhibits, and developing videos and publications. In 1989, Russ continued telling America's great stories when he was named chief of interpretation and visitor services for the Mid-Atlantic region, a position in which he pioneered the current interpretive planning system used by the National Park Service.
It is fitting that his long career led him back to Delaware, where in March of 2013, President Barack Obama authorized sites in Delaware to be a part of the First State National Monument. The monument tells the story of early colonial settlement leading up to the ratification of the constitution. For the first time, Delaware was included in the National Park System, and Russ was back home, leading the monument as superintendent. Under his watch, the First State National Monument turned into the First State National Historical Park, finally giving Delaware the national park it long deserved.
Russ has received the Mid-Atlantic Region's Freeman Tilden Award, the highest award for interpretation, the Director's Design Award for his interpretive plan for the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site, a Superior Service Award from the Department of the Interior for redesigning the National Park Service interpretive planning system and the National Park Service's Appleman-Judd-Lewis Award for excellence in cultural resource management.
Russ is a visionary and a leader. His work touched as many as 70 national park units from Maine to West Virginia and has allowed Americans and visitors from around the world to understand and enjoy the history and beauty that our Nation's national parks and monuments hold. Russ has devoted his life's work to our Nation's park service and has done a tremendous job of inspiring others to enjoy our Nation's history.
On behalf of Senator Chris Coons and Congressman John Carney, I wholeheartedly thank Russ for his 42 years of service to the National Park Service and to our Nation. His model leadership and dedication to educate those of all generations is his legacy. We offer our sincere congratulations on a job well done, and wish him, his wife Jacqueline, and their family many happy, healthy and successful years to come.