Thomas John Smith

July 21, 1936February 15, 2018

Thomas J. Smith of Manasquan, 81, died peacefully February 15th at Jersey Shore University Medical Center after a brief illness. Born in Jersey City, N.J. to Thomas and Ruth Smith, Tom graduated from Teaneck High School after attending Fordham Preparatory School. He served four years in the U.S. Air Force, subsequently graduating from Nicholls State University, which he attended on the G.I. bill. Tom went on to earn his M.S. degree from the University of Southwestern Louisiana, and his Ph.D. in Mathematics from Louisiana State University, specializing in topology. In addition to his academic pursuits, Tom’s life was shaped by his passion for mathematics, sailing, and helping others.

In his professional life, Tom pursued truth. He was a perpetual student, continually following his interests to expand his knowledge and understanding of the world. In 1969 Tom returned to New Jersey to join the faculty of Monmouth University. During his tenure at Monmouth, he played a critical role in developing the Computer Science department, for which he served as chair from 1986-1988. When the Computer Science and Mathematics departments became separate entities, Tom took over the responsibilities of Mathematics chair, serving in that capacity at various times until 2008, when he retired from teaching.

While at Monmouth Tom introduced online software technology to automate testing and assessment for students taking Pre-Calculus, Calculus and Linear Algebra courses. Early in his career, he was involved in community outreach through Project Seed, whose goal was to bring academic achievement to inner city schools. For that program he taught students at the Red Bank Mechanic Street School. As a teacher, he was a friend and mentor to many. He loved teaching, and especially being with his colleagues in the Monmouth University Math Department, which he considered his second home.

From boyhood summers spent in Manasquan, Tom developed a deep love for being on the water and ‘messing about in boats’. His yard was filled with the many small boats he built. An experienced sailor, he loved cruising. Together with his wife Leslie he explored many waterways of the East Coast, Florida, the Caribbean and Pacific Northwest, often on the couple’s 37’ Herreshoff Meadowlark, or on friends’ or chartered sailboats. He also enjoyed woodworking and carpentry. In 1983 he rebuilt a small summer cottage that eventually became his beloved home on the Manasquan Inlet.

A man of modest and unassuming ways, Tom lived a life that reflected the ideals and qualities that were so important to his being - integrity, honesty, forthrightness, and dignity and respect for others. Through teaching and reaching out in so many areas of his life, Tom did his best to help others. Tom’s family gives thanks for his gifts, his presence, and his life. His quiet, thoughtful manner, humor, and pragmatic approach to life will be greatly missed by all who were blessed to call him friend.

Tom is survived by a loving family that includes his wife of 35 years, Leslie (Gleason); twin sisters Mary Ellen Opel (husband Alan) of Monrovia, California, and Ruth Anne Smith of Duarte, California; brother-in-law Perry Gleason of Trenton, Maine; and many nieces and nephews. He also leaves behind his dear friend Roseann Lozinski and her sons Thomas and Michael, whom he considered his second family. A Memorial Gathering to celebrate Tom’s life will be held in the spring at a date to be determined. Burial will be private at Mt. Hebron Cemetery in Montclair, N.J. Arrangements are being handled by Neary-Quinn Funeral Home in Manasquan.


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Thomas John Smith

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Vincent DiGerlando

February 22, 2018

Tom recently came to my mind after visiting the gallery at Monmouth University and I sent him an email to reconnect. I was sad to hear the news of his passing and sorry we were not able to catch up with our lives.

I will miss the talks we had, remember the day trip to help work on his sailboat, the slow walks we took back when at the cove, with our dogs closely following, and the hellos we shared when he stopped his boardwalk jogging to chat.

I am glad I knew Tom and have these pleasant memories to look back on.

My heartfelt condolences to Les and the family.

Brian Burdi

February 21, 2018

Dr. Smith was one of the most caring professors I have ever had. He reached out to me when he saw I was struggling in one of classes and offered to work with me to help me understand. I spent hours in his office learning and he was always patient with finding different ways to help me understand the subject. Without that time he gave me I would not be where I am today. Some of my fondest memories of college was in his classes. He will always be in my thoughts for what he has done. Thank you.

My thoughts go to his family.

Jessica Broyles

February 21, 2018

These words captured him so well as I knew him as my professor for many of my math classes at MU. He is the reason I did not leave Mathematics when it got too hard and he ultimately shaped my life's career path by not letting me quit. I truly loved him as a professor and I pray for comfort for his family during this time of loss.

Bob Haithcock

February 20, 2018

Dr Tom,

I've often thought of you 40 yrs after becoming a freshman at Monmouth College. You were my first professor at MC and the most influential in my studies and career. I'm sorry that I never made through all those difficult and demanding courses that you and Dr Guilfoyle taught in those special small class settings that I didn't realize at the time were the golden opportunities that I let get away. I remember seeing you on the track and you always encouraged me during ore competitive training sessions with my other non math running teammates. I did make it back to mathematics and computer science and also wound up being an adjunct and retired a few years ago from teaching but still work in the IT field thanks to your wisdom. It's been a tough past year losing Pete Evarts as well. Hope to see you circling the track in the next life...Bob Haithcock