All-American Bill Smith's Memorabilia Donated To Hall
Dec. 4, 2009
By Michael Jeremiah
Bill Smith's contributions to the University of Washington began over 80 years ago when he came to Washington as an end for the football team. Now in 2009, donations made by Smith's daughter Susan Crary will give Husky fans a close-up look at the Husky football program in the 1930's and one of the team's best players of that decade.
Smith played at Washington from 1931-1933 under coach Jim Phelan and was a team captain in his final year. Smith was the leader of the Huskies that season for a team that finished 5-4 with impressive victories over UCLA and Stanford. After the season, Smith was named an All- America for his play at end and played in the East-West Shrine game.
At the time, there was only one organization that named All- Americans, making Smith's achievement more impressive in historical perspective.
After college, Smith went on to play six years in the professional ranks for the Chicago Cardinals. He played both ways and also served as the Cardinals' kicker.
During his career, he collected Hall of Fame caliber memorabilia and Crary has donated some of those items to the Professional Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Letters written to Smith on official team letterhead from football legends like George Halas and Curly Lambeau asking him to play for their respective teams are now in the archives in Canton.
Smith joined the Navy in 1940, marking the end of his playing days. He was based on the West Coast, working as part of the Navy's investigative services. In 1943, Smith was transferred to Hawaii. After leaving the Navy, Smith settled in California, where some of his family still resides today.
In the era, All-Americans were given items that were much different from those awarded today. Those items included an All-America blanket and sweater, both of which were donated in great condition. Other items donated by Crary include Smith's All-America plaque, game jersey and a scrapbook of articles and photos that was made and kept by the family.
Following his death in 1999, the heirlooms from his playing days became his family's responsibility. Considering their amazing condition and the high prestige of the awards, Crary felt that it would be best to share the items with Husky fans.
'We decided that it would be better to share these things instead of just having them sit in a closet,' said Crary. 'I'm delighted. My father would be very happy. He relished his time at UW.'
The donated items will be on display in the Husky Fever Hall of Fame. The 5,000-square-foot Hall of Fame is located on the west side of Hec Edmundson Pavilion and houses an assortment of the best Husky memorabilia on display. According to Husky Fever Hall of Fame curator Dave Torrell, the donation by Smith's family will be an amazing addition.
'It's safe to say that this is the best assortment of awards and memorabilia from an All-American from the old days that we have ever had,' said Torrell. 'This is the first chance we've ever had to display everything that they ever received.'
The Hall of Fame features displays for all 21 current varsity sports, as well as displays for retired sports. Because the exhibits are professionally mounted annually, the newly donated items won't be available for viewing until the start of the 2010 football season. Once displayed though, Husky fans will have an upclose look of Washington football in the 1930's and the career of Bill Smith.