Long-time Naperville Coach Dick Smith Dies at 98

Dick Smith
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Dick Smith, the long-time Naperville Central Coach and North Central College Hall of Fame member, died at the age of 98.

While his coaching accolades reached considerable lengths across multiple institutions, perhaps the most lasting impact of Smith’s legacy is his role founding the Naperville Little League and Pony League in the 1950’s.

High School Coaching Career

In 1952, Dick Smith started the baseball program at Naperville Central. From 1952-70 and from 77-81, Smith complied a record of 289-96.

Smith also coached football. As a head coach, he recorded a 42-18 margin at Naperville Central, though made his greatest mark as an assistant, racking up 192 wins.

Smith also coached and officiated basketball, while teaching physical education at Naperville Central.

He was elected to the Illinois High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 1989, the Illinois High School Basketball Association Hall of Fame in 1987, and the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1983.

Naperville Central Head Football Coach Mike Stine remembers Smith fondly.

“Dick Retired from teaching PE in 1985. I was hired in the PE department when he retired. I never had the good fortunes to Coach with Dick. But for 35 years he would call a couple times a year to see how I was doing. To see how the team was looking. He always came back for the North Central Homecoming game and would usually come to the Naperville Central game that same weekend. It was always special having him stop by on the sideline. He was a mentor to me and so many others. He was a father figure that I really respected and looked up to.

North Central Athletic Career

Smith was a three sport athlete at North Central from 1941-1943 and from 1946-1948, stepping away from the College to join the U. S. Army Air Corps in February 1943.

As an athlete, Smith excelled, earning all-conference honors in football and basketball, while also playing baseball. He captained the 1947 football team to the only bowl game in school history, a 21-0 loss to SIU in the Corn Bowl.

North Central Athletic Director Jim Miller recalls when he learned the history of Smith.

Rick Spencer, our Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Athletics, brought forth Dick’s name to me for consideration for the North Central Hall of Fame a number of years ago.  While I had done a lot of the research for future candidates, when I found information on Dick and it was an easy selection.  However, once I/we all had a chance to meet him and hear his life stories, it just meant so much more.  Dick was simply a wonderful, caring, pleasant person to be around.  Every time we would see him he simply made you smile and feel good inside!  I know that sounds corny, but he was just a kind, kind person.

Smith was inducted in to the North Central Hall of Fame in 2005.