A Legacy of Education: One longtime teacher brings education to Nebraskans through a gift to NET
Randall Smith may have traveled the world, but he always had one foot firmly planted in the Heartland. The son of South Dakota homesteaders, he was born on his parents' ranch in 1914 and raised in a sod house nestled into the vast grasslands. In 1932 he graduated from Newell High School in South Dakota and later from Yankton College – established in 1881 as the first college in the Dakota Territory – with a degree in mathematics.
Four Decades of Teaching
The military put Randall's sharp math skills to use in France during World War II, using him as a meteorological forecaster to assist the Army Air Corps' flight planning. After he was seriously injured he returned home to South Dakota, Purple Heart in hand, and went to work as a teacher. Randall dedicated his life to education, teaching high school math and Spanish and coaching football and track for 40 years, first in South Dakota and later in Valentine and Hebron, Nebraska. He also earned his Master's Degree in Spanish in Mexico and explored Australia and other far-flung spots around the world.
But despite his love of travel Randall always returned to Nebraska, valuing the small-town comforts of home and the straight-forward Midwest way of life – and that included the programming he found on NET.
"I love public broadcasting because it's not sensational and you get real news," he told NET Planned Giving Director Michele Peón-Casanova, about a year before he died. "He enjoyed the PBS programs very much," says his sister, Coila Robinson, of Brandon, South Dakota. "He watched the news programs, enjoyed the classical music and loved the sports."
A loyal NET member for 25 years, Randall left a generous gift of $30,000 in his will to NET Television and NET Radio when he passed away in September at the age of 92. His gift ensures that his appreciation for public broadcasting and his dedication to education will endure in the knowledge, delight and inspiration his fellow Nebraskans receive through NET.
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