|Albert P. Smith Jr.|
From 1974 to 2007, Smith was the host and producer of Kentucky Educational Television’s “Comment on Kentucky,” the longest running public-affairs show on a PBS affiliate, taking leave in 1980-82 to serve as federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission for Presidents Carter and Reagan.
After selling his newspapers in 1985, Smith broadened his civic work. He and his friend Rudy Abramson, who died in 2008, thought up the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues in the late 1990s, and he persuaded his onetime New Orleans intern, Hodding Carter III, to take it past the study stage with a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which Carter headed. He was chair emeritus of the institute’s Advisory Board. He was a charter member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame and a fellow of the national Society of Professional Journalists and former president of the Kentucky Press Association, a role in which he helped pass the state's main open-government laws.
Two statewide awards are named for him. One is given by the rural-journalism institute and the Bluegrass SPJ Chapter for public service through community journalism (he was its first recipient); the other is a $7,500 award from the Kentucky Arts Commission, which he once chaired, to a Kentucky artist who has achieved a high level of excellence and creativity.
Survivors include his beloved wife of almost 54 years, Martha Helen Smith; his children, Catherine McCarty (William) of Birmingham, Ala.; Lewis Carter Hancock of Louisville and Virginia Major (William) of West Hartford, Conn.; an “adopted” son, Huaming Gu of Shanghai, China; and his sister, Robin Burrow, of Abilene, Texas. He is also survived by five grandchildren, Evan and Connor (Ikue) McCarty, Lauren Hancock, and Susannah and Ava Major; and numerous cousins.
A memorial service will be held at a later date. The family suggests instead that memorial contributions may be made in Al’s honor to the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, 343 S. Martin Luther King Blvd., #206 BLD, Lexington KY 40506-0012, and to The Hope Center.