In the Community

Giving Back: Physician's Daughter Focused on the Future

Florence Smith’s respect for good doctors came to her naturally as the only daughter of Dr. Hy Smith and his wife Julia. Hy Smith was a Civil War surgeon who treated Yellow Fever victims in the 1870s and ‘80s and later had a medical practice i Norfolk, Virginia. He passed away in 1915.

Thirty-seven years after her dad’s death, Florence Smith left a charitable bequest in her will to her community foundation to guarantee a steady stream of excellent physicians from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Her 1952 bequest provided an initial $460,000, and the following year the Hampton Roads Community Foundation was able to award scholarships to 26 Virginians attending medical school in her name. One of the recipients became president of the American Medical Association.

Over the decades, nearly 750 Smith Scholars have benefited from Florence Smith’s generosity and have gone on to be caring physicians and to head various medical societies. The $2.5 million her scholarship at the Hampton Roads Community Foundation has provided paved the way for caring physicians in all fields. Today the perpetual Smith Fund is helping 15 medical students and has grown to more than $2.2 million in value.Soon new medical students will join their ranks as current fourth-year students graduate and move on to residency.

One of the 2016 graduating Smith Scholars is S. Barron Frazier, a fourth-year Eastern Virginia Medical School student from Norfolk. He says: “Miss Smith saw that money only has as much value as you contribute to the future. Her gift is a model that says if you give to the future you will create a better community.”

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