S. Bruce Smart Jr., a Virginia horseman whose life and career spanned business, government, public service, and environmentalism, died early Thursday. He was 95.
A National Steeplechase Association Patron member, he and his wife, Edith, operated Trappe Hill Farm in Upperville, where they settled in 1986.
Among the horses he raced in recent years were Orchestra Leader, a multiple feature winner, and 2016 three-year-old champion Officer’s Oath. Both were trained by Jimmy Day. His wife, Emily, spoke of her and Jimmy’s gratitude to Bruce and Edie Smart.
“I can say that his passing on Thanksgiving framed for us the deep, deep gratitude we have for his and Edie’s involvement and participation in so many aspects of our lives, both personal and professional. We were lucky people the day we met the Smarts,” she said.
“To us personally, he was a dear friend as well as a steadfast and enthusiastic supporter of us and our training operation. He was a proper horse and horse-sport enthusiast, the likes of which come along very rarely.
“We were so very fortunate to form a lasting partnership with him and Edie both. From the highest of highs to those times we would rather forget, they loved their horses and the whole Thoroughbred game.”
S. Bruce Smart Jr. was born in Bedford, N.Y., the son of S. Bruce Smart, who served as chairman of Fruit of the Loom from 1935 to 1963. He received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard and held a master’s degree in civil engineering from MIT.
During World War II, he served with the U.S. Army Medical Corps and returned to service during the Korean war with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
In business, he culminated a 32-year career with Continental Group, the former Continental Can Co., as chairman and chief executive officer before his retirement in 1985.
Upon his retirement, he became U.S. undersecretary of commerce for international trade in the Reagan administration and serviced in that post until 1988.
A lifelong conservationist, he subsequently served as senior fellow of the World Resources Institute and was the author of Beyond Compliance: A New Industry View of the Environment, in which he laid out a path for forward-looking companies to lead the effort for environmental protection.
He and Edie placed Trappe Hill into a conservation trust, and he served in Virginia as a member of the Governor’s Commission on Climate Change.
He also was the author of the three-volume A Community of the Horse: Partnerships, Stakes & Stakeholders, and Legacies, a tribute to the horse culture in the Upperville area.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, December 8, at 10 a.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church in Upperville. The family suggests, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the conservation organization of the donor’s choice.