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0ct. 31, 2007

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School of Communication

CSU mourns loss of 'soul'

By Audra I. Stephen

Charles Vincent Smith was more than just an instructor at CSU; he was a friend to many. Better known as Chas to his colleagues and students, he passed away Oct. 16 at the Cleveland Clinic.
Smith, who earned a masters’ degree in music composition from CSU, taught the most popular class at the university: Roots of Rock and Soul.
“What an incredible loss for the department,” said Eric Ziolek, chair of the Music Department. “For someone who teaches the most popular Gen-Ed class on campus can’t be replaced.”
Smith, who just turned 50, was hospitalized a month ago with pneumonia and a severe stroke. He also battled Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (Hodgkin’s disease). He received treatment for it as a boy, but the disease resurfaced.
Smith was passionate about music and brought that passion to the classroom.
“I was stunned as tears began to whale up in my eyes,” said Priscilla Franklin, a social work major, after learning the news about Smith. “As I sat there and tears began to fall, my mind began to reminisce back to my first day of class. Professor Chas was wearing a black leather jacket, black jeans and tennis shoes.”
Leather pants and tight T-shirts were the usual attire Smith wore. At the start of each class, he came in and played a song on the piano or pulled out his harmonica, said Franklin.
His Roots of Rock and Soul class focused on the origins of music that began during slavery and developed through the 1960s, and collected ideas from blues, bluegrass, soul, funk, country and gospel.
Smith was not only a musician and an educator, but also a published author. His books included: “From Woodstock to the Moon: The Cultural Evolution of Rock Music” and “The Soul of Sunrise: Grassroots Music in America.” His third book was recently completed, but he died before its publication.
Smith was the leader of his band, Einstein’s Secret Orchestra, a space-age band that performed at many Churches of the SubGenius in Ohio.
“Kids really liked taking his class,” said Kevin Eppich, academic adviser at the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, and a former graduate assistant to Smith.
Toni Lovejoy, secretary of the Music Department and a former student said, “I was very devastated. Best professor I had. He was my buddy.”
Services were held on Oct. 19 at the Brickman Bros. Funeral Home in Willoughby. He was laid to rest at Crown Hill Cemetery. Contributions can be made to the Charles Smith Fund at U.S Bank 26410 Lakeshore Blvd. in Euclid.
Smith leaves behind his parents, Stanley and Theresa Smith; brothers Richard and Thomas; and sister Patricia. His brother, John, died of Hodgkin’s Disease.

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