Nature 38
Official Obituary of

Matthew Warren Smith

November 30, 1993 ~ February 27, 2024 (age 30) 30 Years Old

Matthew Smith Obituary

Matthew Warren Smith was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on November 30, 1993, to Gerald Smith, Jr. and Christie Parker Smith. At a young age he was the precocious one. In elementary school he earned the President’s Outstanding Excellence Award. Upon receiving a congratulatory letter from the White House, he remarked that he thought the president could have written him a longer letter.

In middle school he was honored as a future leader by Who’s Who Among Outstanding Middle School Students. Middle school marked the beginning of his years long affiliation with the People to People Student Ambassadors program that lasted through high school. The program was started by President Eisenhower as a cultural exchange program. Through the program, Matthew traveled to Australia, China, England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. As part of an exchange program, he also traveled to Spain. In the 8th grade, after preparing a report on Albert Einstein, he announced that he wanted to be a physicist when he grew up.

At Sherwood high school he played the trombone in the symphonic band, participated in the cross-country team, was a member of the It’s Academic Team, Quiz Bowl, the National Honor Society, Global Studies Ambassadors, Science Honor Society, the Debate Team, Boy Scouts and the Montgomery County Maryland Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout, boy scouting’s highest level.

Only four percent of all scouts earn the Eagle rank. They are required to earn at least 21 merit badges, hold leadership positions, exemplify the scout oath and law, and complete a comprehensive service project. Eagle scouts are expected to be the leaders in life that they have been in scouting. Matthew earned 56 merit badges and held the following leadership positions within Troop 433: Senior Patrol Leader twice; Assistant Senior Patrol Leader twice; Assistant Patrol Leader twice; Quartermaster twice; Order of the Arrow Representative; Librarian; and Patrol Leader. In Jack and Jill, he served as the teen parliamentarian and vice president. From high school, Matthew matriculated to Purdue University where he earned two bachelor’s degrees in physics and Spanish. In college he joined two fraternities: Delta Sigma Phi and Alpha Phi Omega. Since graduation from Purdue, he has been employed with Gentex Corporation in Grand Rapids and Zeeland, Michigan as a physicist specializing in optics. Matthew originally wanted to be a nuclear physicist, but a summer internship at the University of Maryland in optical physics changed that trajectory.

One of his Gentex projects, electronic dimmable windows, can be seen on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. Another project is the Full Display Mirror (FDM), an intelligent rear-vision system that integrates a custom camera and mirror-integrated video display. The display optimizes a vehicle’s rearward view to provide an unobstructed panoramic view. According to J.D. Power, this was among the top five most preferred technologies for two years in a row. This FDM is in use by General Motors/Cadillac in the CT6 sedan, XT5 crossover, Cadillac Escalade and CTS-V. It is in prototype development at every major European and Asian automaker. The Gentex FDM received awards from Popular Science’s Best of "What’s New Automative", Automotive News PACE award, and General Motors Innovation award.

In Matthew’s free time he loved to travel and focus on social justice issues. He was an active member of his Heritage Hill community in Grand Rapids where he was president of his homeowners’ association. He was on the board of the Heritage Hill Association, chair of the land use committee, member of the Heritage Hill planning working group, and a member of the Grand Rapids Police Civilian Appeal board. He volunteered to tutor Spanish and mentor school aged children through his affiliation with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. To demonstrate his grasp of Spanish, he earned the internationally recognized DELE Spanish Diploma Level C2 (Mastery) certification. That level indicates sufficient linguistic competence to communicate effectively in any situation, and proven ability to spontaneously adapt to any context, with a high degree of precision.

He started running marathons, having completed three, the last of which was on October 16, 2023, and riding a motorcycle. The latter claimed his life while traveling in the Dominican Republic on February 27, 2024. He wanted to make a career transition by starting law school. His plan was to become a lawyer, join the Army Reserves and eventually go into politics.

He is survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Smith, Jr., maternal grandmother, Mrs. Florida Fisher Parker, paternal grand-parents, Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Smith, Sr. and a host of aunts, uncles and cousins. He was preceded in death by his maternal grandfather, COL (Ret.) Herbert Gerald Parker, Ph.D.

Visitation will be from 12 to 1 p.m. on March 15, 2024, at Norbeck Chapel, Norbeck Memorial Park, 16225 Batchellors Forest Rd., Olney, MD 20832. Services will follow from 1 to 2 p.m. The repass will be at Oakdale Church in Brigham Hall, 3425 Emory Church Rd., Olney, MD 20832

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Services

Visitation
Friday
March 15, 2024

12:00 PM to 1:00 PM
The Chapel at Norbeck Memorial Park
16225 Batchellors Forest Road
Olney, MD 20832

Funeral Service
Friday
March 15, 2024

1:00 PM
The Chapel at Norbeck Memorial Park
16225 Batchellors Forest Road
Olney, MD 20832

Interment following funeral service
Friday
March 15, 2024

Norbeck Memorial Park, Maryland, Olney
16225 Batchellors Forest Rd
Olney, MD 20832

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