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Roy Smith: Supporting Bellevue University from Its Beginnings

By Bill Wax

Builders of Bellevue University: Across the Years and Generations

In celebration of Bellevue University’s 50th Anniversary, we take time to recognize the many individuals and organizations that have helped to build the University into Nebraska’s largest private college or university. The late Roy A. Smith and his wife, Macaela, are long-term Builders of Bellevue University.

Roy Smith: Supporting Bellevue University from Its Beginnings

Community leader Roy A. Smith was one of the first to respond when Bellevue civic leaders asked for support to launch Bellevue College. Smith, a longtime resident of Bellevue and a legendary auto dealer in the Omaha area, owned H.P. Smith Ford in South Omaha in the mid-1960s, when Bellevue College began. Founding Bellevue College Board member William V. “Bill” Brooks recalled that Smith’s rapid response to support a bond issue to start the college was a great encouragement to the fund raisers who canvased their fellow Bellevue residents.

R&M Informal 300ppiSmith, who also owned Old Mill Toyota, was a longtime resident of Bellevue, Nebraska. He served on the Board of Directors (1984-2007), including a term as Board Chair, and remained an Emeritus Director until his death in 2010. He joined the Board at a critical period when the institution was facing financial difficulty and declining enrollment. Along with other key Directors, he provided financial support and steady leadership for the administration to get the University on a sound footing. He also served on the Bellevue University Foundation Board, including two terms as Chair.

Roy was heavily involved in giving back to many worthy causes in the community and beyond, including charitable and non-profit boards such as The Salvation Army, Boy Scouts of America Mid-America Council, and United Way of the Midlands. He was chairman of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce in 1991 and spearheaded efforts to combat racism and racial discrimination. He also was a strong supporter of South Omaha and gave generously to efforts to develop it.

Roy received an honorary doctoral degree from Bellevue College in 1990.

In 2013, Macaela Smith established the Roy and Macaela Smith Community Scholarship Fund at Bellevue University, an endowed fund to assist deserving students in earning their degrees.