February 15, 1909: Unexpected death of Central High principal Charles Alden Smith

On this day in Duluth in 1909, Duluth High School principal Charles Alden Smith died of “hardening of the liver and tuberculosis of the stomach.” Although he had been in the hospital for three weeks, his passing was received with some shock. Smith, who had been principal at the high school since 1899, was a native of Princeton, Illinois, and educated at Amherst College. Before coming to Duluth he had been a high school principal in Peoria, Illinois, head of the prestigious Lake Forest preparatory school, and head of a military school in Orchard Lake, Michigan. According to the Duluth News Tribune, “the news of his death was a shock to students and teachers…who feel that his place will be hard to fill. He was honored and loved by all the students under his charge and his death will cast a shadow over the entire school year.” The paper continued, “Many of the students in the senior class would have dropped out of the school in their first and second years if Smith had not helped and encouraged them.” In a separate story, the News Tribune opined that Smith “was an excellent school man, with the faculty of both discipline and organization without sacrificing the loyal affection of the teachers and pupils. He was liberal in his views as an educator, affable in manner, and such as his equal is seldom found in a like position.” His services, attended by “hundreds,” were held at Glen Avon Presbyterian Church on Woodland Avenue. When his body was transported to Forest Hill Cemetery in a carriage, “the boys of the high school formed in a double line, about a block long, and followed [the hearse] to the vault at Forest Hill.” Later that year, the seniors dedicated their “Zenith” yearbook—the fifth one ever produced—to Smith.

C. A. Smith. (Image: Zenith City Press)