In Memoriam: R. Scudder Smith, publisher of Antiques & the Arts Weekly, 87

Scudder Smith

R. Scudder Smith, photo courtesy of Antiques & the Arts Weekly

NEWTOWN, Conn. — The Smith family announces with sadness the passing of R. Scudder Smith, publisher of Antiques & the Arts Weekly, on August 14, 2022; he was 87 years old. Born on April 12, 1935, Robert Scudder Smith was the elder son of Paul Scudder Smith and Mary Starr Conger Smith, and older brother to Mary Starr Adams and Ted Smith.

He attended his father’s alma mater, Amherst College, briefly, in 1953 but in 1954, he enlisted for three years with the United States Marine Corps, where he trained as a navigator at Cherry Point, N.C. There, he met and married Helen Willis, settling in upstate New York in 1957 where he attended Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.

Smith’s family company has owned and published The Newtown Bee for 141 of its 145 years; Scudder worked at the paper beginning in 1961; he succeeded his father Paul as editor in 1972. On June 28, 2022, local luminaries, including Newtown’s First Selectman, both of Connecticut’s US Senators and the Fifth District US Congresswoman, honored The Newtown Bee for its longevity and to celebrate Smith and his family’s love for and dedication to the community.

Scudder’s passion for antiques manifested in The Newtown Bee’s sister paper, Antiques and The Arts Weekly, which he founded in 1963 and began as four pages of antiques coverage in The Newtown Bee. It has covered antique shows, auctions, museum exhibitions and related art-world events since then. In 2006, the Antiques Dealers Association of America (ADA) honored Scudder with its Award of Merit for his contribution to the industry that has been substantially shaped by Antiques and The Arts Weekly.

Scudder and Helen began buying antiques during their life in Schenectady, gradually gravitating to folk sculpture, with weathervanes, game boards, whirligigs and carousel figures forming the core of their collection. A passionate collector, Scudder built up a formidable still bank collection, adding to it even from his hospital bed in his final days.

Since 1981, Smith enjoyed vacationing in Saint Barthelemy in the French West Indies, where he loved hosting family and friends.

When he wasn’t chasing antiques or the next story for the paper, Scudder enjoyed creating elaborate gardens designed with vintage structures and garden antiques.

Smith is survived by Helen, his wife of 66 years, his son, David Smith, and daughter, Sherri Smith Baggett, four grandchildren: Benjamin and Gregory Smith, and Scudder and Judd Baggett, and six great-grandchildren, as well as friends and colleagues both local and around the world.

A wake will be held at Honan’s Funeral Home (58 Main Street, Newtown) Thursday, August 18, 5 to 8 pm. A funeral service will take place at the Newtown Meeting House (31 Main Street, Newtown) at 10 am, Friday, August 19, and will be live-streamed at this link. Interment will follow at the Newtown Village Cemetery, at 20 Elm Drive.

Donations in Scudder Smith’s name may be made to the Newtown Scholarship Association, PO Box 302, Newtown, CT 06470; Town of Newtown Animal Control, 3 Primrose Street, Newtown, CT 06470; or the FAITH Food Pantry of Newtown, 46 Church Hill Road, Newtown, CT 06470.

A more extensive obituary will be featured in the September 2 issue of Antiques and The Arts Weekly.

By Madelia Hickman Ring


Auction Central News thanks Antiques & the Arts Weekly and Madelia Hickman Ring for sharing this tribute to Scudder Smith.