Georgia Historical Society Receives Generous Bequest from the Estate of Robert B. Smith II

Savannah, Ga., December 19, 2022—The Georgia Historical Society is pleased to announce a generous bequest of $500,000 given through the estate of Robert B. Smith II. A former United Airlines pilot, Smith was a resident of Savannah from 2010 – 2021.

“On behalf of the Georgia Historical Society (GHS) and our Board of Curators, I want to express my sincere and heartfelt gratitude to Bob Smith and his family for this wonderful gift,” said Dr. W. Todd Groce, President and CEO of the Georgia Historical Society. “This is a meaningful way to recognize a great man who collected friends wherever he went. By creating the Robert B. Smith II named fund as part of the GHS Endowment, Bob and his family have secured an enduring legacy that will advance the mission of this institution and benefit history students, teachers, and researchers for generations to come.”

Robert Brookings Smith II was born in 1934 in St. Louis, Missouri, to Katherine and Alan T. Smith. He was the youngest of three boys. He graduated from Yale University and was later drafted to serve in the Korean War.

After the war, Smith became a pilot for Republic Airlines flying DC-3s before settling into a long career as a 737 pilot for United Airlines. While at United, he met his wife, Kathleen, who was a stewardess and model. They had four children: Robert III, Christopher, Jonathan, and Molly (Wilson). They also had eight grandchildren.

Smith died on October 23, 2021, and was buried in Harbor Springs, Michigan, where he spent most of his summers.

In 2022, the Georgia Historical Society received notification of a generous bequest left by Smith to GHS. This legacy gift was used to establish the Robert B. Smith II Fund within the GHS Endowment, thereby providing for the mission and work of the historic institution in perpetuity. The gift will help GHS fulfill its $20 million endowment goal, a key priority of GHS’s Next Century Initiative campaign.

Nearly half a century ago, the Georgia Historical Society created an Endowment Fund to ensure the future of GHS, one of the oldest historical societies in the nation. Governed by an independent Board of Trustees, the purpose of the GHS Endowment is twofold: to provide perpetual care for, and access to, the oldest archival collection of Georgia history in the nation and to ensure the delivery of rich and varied educational and public programs for teachers, students, and general audiences.

The Georgia Historical Society Endowment Fund extends to donors a unique opportunity to provide perpetual support in fulfillment of GHS’s educational and research mission to collect, examine, and teach Georgia history.

For more information about the GHS Endowment Fund, or the Next Century Initiative campaign, please contact Leanda Rix at


Georgia Historical Society (GHS) is the premier independent statewide institution responsible for collecting, examining, and teaching Georgia history. GHS houses the oldest and most distinguished collection of materials related exclusively to Georgia history in the nation.
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