Ken Smith (1957-2001): A Remembrance

Ken Smith 1957-2001

From the August 2001 Edition of CEI Update


A decade ago the free-market community, as well as lovers of honest journalism, lost a good friend with the passing of Warren Brookes. A similar blow has been struck recently with the untimely death of Ken Smith, deputy editorial page editor of the Washington Times. Ken, along with young journalists like Jeff Jacoby and John Stossel, did much to fill the gaping void left by Warren Brookes’ death. Ken was only 44 when he succumbed to liver cancer in early July.


Ken entered journalism while a student at Washington and Lee University and worked stints at papers throughout Virginia before joining the Times five years ago. Along the way, Ken honed a healthy skepticism of government and politicians that served his craft well. Though an editorialist and essayist, Ken was always a reporter first, and his columns were filled with facts and news. His efforts left his fellow journalists’ work suffering by comparison. Ken’s fierce reporting on issues such as the environment, global warming, and the Endangered Species Act uncovered numerous instances of government folly and provided ample ammunition for those of us who have never been convinced that the government, though here, is here to help.


As good a newsman as Ken was–and he was a journalist of the first stripe–Ken Smith was an even better person, a truly good man whose passing seems neither just nor fair to those he left behind. He was one of the finest friends many of us at CEI ever had, a paragon of kindness and compassion, an exemplar of loyalty.


One could never read a Ken Smith column without learning something valuable. In meeting his end with calm and grace, Ken taught us a valuable and inspiring lesson about death and facing up to its inevitability with dignity and without fear.