Kip Smythe of NPES, friend to the industry, passed away at the end of last week, after a long “peaks and valleys” challenge of cancer. No one deserves that challenge, especially, the families who suffer around their loved one. There are times when such difficulties illuminate one’s life and relationships, offering the opportunity to be an example of dignity and gratitude, however unwelcome that is.
Kip helped everyone who asked for his help. He was a tremendous behind-the-scenes advocate for so many contributors to the industry, in its statistics, research, and its standards. He treated everyone in the same positive manner, no matter their stature. I'm sure he had “those” days in his career, but I never heard a cross or angry word from him -- or about him. He was always kind and generous to me, always with great advice, with great sensitivity for the "right moment," always with honest candor, knowing when “not now” or “now” was when it wasn’t otherwise clear.
His health challenges these past years were always handled with great dignity, with a matter-of-factness about them, at least in public. He would chat about what he was facing, but would ask how you were doing, and how things were at home with the family. It wasn’t idle chatter, he really meant it.
Prior to this round of medical issues, Kip was a prostate cancer survivor. When I learned of a friend or acquaintance who was diagnosed with it, Kip was always willing to talk with them – total strangers from vastly different walks of life – about what he faced and the treatment choices he made. He spoke plainly, like he knew them for years.
I first met him in 1981 at a NPES market research committee, not long after he started at the association. Some readers may remember the 1982 Process Color Study that NPES conducted with Battelle. It was the project where I met so many GAMIS and NPES friends -- and I learned so much just by watching Kip work. He was able to travel the world -- which he loved, but it was sometimes a burden with extended trips of weeks and weeks away from family. On those trips he represented us, and our industry. I'd like to think that because of those trips Kip had friends and acquaintances and admirers around the globe. This was a very special man whom I will miss dearly and so will many others.