updates: last modified 07/07/2009


Bob Smithdas, Director of Community Education, on a phone call using a telebraille machine.On Friday, January 16th, Dr. Robert J. Smithdas, HKNC's Director of Community Education, was honored at an intimate retirement luncheon at the Center's headquarters in New York. Bob officially retired  from HKNC on December 31, 2008.


Bob and his wife Michelle were joined by family, friends, HKNC board members and colleagues. Speakers shared funny and touching memories of Bob, recalling his long and distinguished career as a pioneer in establishing services for individuals who are deaf-blind.


Barbara Walters, who once called Bob the most inspirational man she ever met, joined in the celebration.


Dr. Robert Smithdas and Barbara Walters at Bob's retirement luncheon

Caption: Bob Smithdas and Barbara Walters

at Bob's retirement luncheon 1/16/09


Rich McGann, also deaf-blind and a longtime friend of Bob's, presented him with a Proclamation from the City of Pittsburgh, (where Bob grew up), declaring January 16th, 2009 as "Dr. Robert J. Smithdas Day."

CLICK HERE to read the Proclamation in PDF format 

CLICK HERE to read the Proclamation in text


CLICK HERE to read the Honorable Gary Ackerman's "Celebrating the Accomplishments of Dr. Robert J. Smithdas" in the Congressional Record.


CLICK HERE to read Senator Charles "Chuck" Schumer's "Tribute to Dr. Robert J. Smithdas" in the Congressional Record.


CLICK HERE to read an article about Bob's life.


More about Dr. Smithdas

Bob began his career with the Industrial Home for the Blind (now HKSB) in 1950 after graduating with his Bachelor of Arts Degree, cum laude, from St. Johnís University in New York. Three years later, he became the first person who was deaf-blind to earn a masterís degree. He achieved this distinction at New York University where he specialized in vocational guidance and rehabilitation of the handicapped.

Bob is also the recipient of four honorary degrees: Doctor of Letters from Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C.; Doctor of Humanities from Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan; Doctor of Humane Letters, from his alma mater, St. Johnís University; and Doctor of Humane Letters, Mount Aloysius College, Cresson, PA. Bob has tirelessly advocated for people who are deaf-blind over the many years of his employment with HKNC.


Dr. Smithdas is a published author, world traveler and international speaker. Some of his publications include Shared Beauty, Life at My Fingertips and City of the Heart.


Dr. Smithdas was the editor of Nat-Cent News, the official publication of HKNC for many years.


For more information about Dr. Smithdas, or to support HKNC's work with a donation in his honor, contact:

Development Department


Phone: (516) 944-8900 Ext. 254 (Voice/TTY)


Copyright © 2008 Helen Keller National Center. All rights reserved.