Smith Family Papers on World War II, MS 065
Rev. Frank Herron Smith
Dr. Frank Herron Smith was born in Illinois in 1879, son of a physician and a school teacher. By 1905, he had completed a theological course of study at Northwestern University. He soon left to begin his work abroad as a Methodist missionary, establishing churches in Japan and later Korea. By 1926, Frank Herron Smith and his family had returned to the U.S. and settled in Berkeley, California, where he served as the superintendent of the Pacific Japanese (Methodist) Mission and oversaw 22 churches in the Western U.S. After the 1942 forced internment of Japanese Americans from the West Coast, he continued ministering to his congregation by conducting church services for them in all ten of the far-flung internment camps. He was also a strong advocate for the fair treatment of the internees both while interned and once released, as well as for their businesses and real property that they had been forced to leave upon evacuation. Conversant in Japanese, Frank Herron Smith assisted the Office of War Information (OWI) in preparing scripts and making radio broadcasts to Japan during the war years. He died in Palo Alto, California, on August 6, 1965.
Morris Eugene "Gene" Smith, Ph.D.
Gene Smith was born 1912 in Nagasaki, Japan, to Methodist missionary parents, Frank Herron and Gertrude Smith. As his parents' work led them to establish churches in Korea, Smith spent most of his childhood there. The family returned to the U.S. in 1926, living in Berkeley, California. Smith attended U.C. Berkeley, earning a Bachelor's degree in History and a Master's degree in East Asian Studies. He also was a star player on the varsity tennis team, reaching the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. After the war years, Smith continued his studies, earning a doctorate in history at the University of Oregon; his thesis was the first scholarly history of the campus now known as California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
Smith enlisted in the Army in 1942. With a working knowledge of the Japanese language and his personal experience living abroad in Asia, Smith had valuable war-time skills. After a year's intensive language training at the Military Intelligence Service Language School (MISLS), he went on to serve as a Military Intelligence Officer, translating for and interrogating Japanese POWs. Discharged in 1946 with the rank of major, he received the Bronze Star and the Air Medal for his military service.
He began teaching history at Cal Poly in 1946. During his tenure at Cal Poly, he served as Social Sciences Department Head and later as founding head of the History Department. While at Cal Poly, he also coached the tennis team from 1946-1954. He retired in 1974 and died on May 8, 2005, in San Luis Obispo, California.
"M. E. 'Gene' Smith." [obituary] San Luis Obispo Tribune 27 July 2005: B-2.
"Morris E. Smith." U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946. Ancestry.com.
"Professor Emeritus M. E. 'Gene'" Smith Memorial July 30." Cal Poly Report. 20 July 2005: 2.
"Retirement Reception Planned for Gene Smith." Cal Poly Report 26 Feb. 1974: 2.
"Rites Set for Former Missionary to Japan." Los Angeles Times 14 Aug 1965: B-8.