Heart attack kills Smith’s only son

OBITUARY: Alec Smith (1948-2006) Ian Smith's son to be buried in Norway after heart attack at Heathrow BY TREVOR GRUNDY Alec Smith, the only flesh and blood child of Ian and Jane Smith, is to cremated in Norway following his death after a severe heart attack at Heathrow Airport last week, family fri

ends told The Zimbabwean. He was 57 when he died and is survived by his Norwegian wife Elisabeth, two daughters and a son. The Smith family – including the Rhodesian Prime Minister who declared his infamous UDI against the British Crown in November 1965 – is devastated. Alec Smith suffered the attack on Thursday January 19 as he waited to board a plane back to Harare. He had been visiting his wife’s family for Christmas and the New Year celebrations at their home outside Oslo. “A cremation service is planned in Norway, followed by a memorial service in the Zimbabwean capital,” said a family friend. “The dates have to be announced.” Alec Smith had a turbulent relationship with his father and for a long time after one of their private rows the young man was ostracized by most whites in Rhodesia. He was largely cold-shouldered by black Rhodesians who did not want to be seen fraternizing with the only natural born son of Ian Smith – once Africa’s most detested European. During his teenage years – for Alec was a child of The Beatles generation – he suffered from a drug habit, which further distanced himself not only from Rhodesia’s rather righteous “Christian” white community but also from his own parents. Both of them were strong church-goers, sportspeople and enemies of the promiscuous society which men like John Lennon and Mick Jigger represented 40 years ago. At the beginning, though, Alec was very special to Ian and Janet Smith. Smith married Janet Watt, the widow of the famous South African rugby player Piet Duvenage, in 1948. Mr Duvenage had died in a freak accident playing rugby. Janet was left with two children which she supported on a teacher’s salary. Alec was born the following year. For years, Alec Smith was estranged from his parents but grew close to his father after the death of Janet Smith, from cancer, in 1994. He also helped his father write his memoirs The Great Betrayal, published in London and South Africa in 1997. After years fighting drugs, Alec Smith became a reserve chaplain for the new Zimbabwean Army in 1980. In his book ” Now I call him Brother”, Alec reflected on the Christian values that made reconciliation between once warring peoples and races possibly. Alex volunteered for charities, administered an African football team and organised training session for young black players. Ian Smith turns 87 on April 8. He is now very frail, an old man living at St James, Cape Town (close to the place of death of the Rhodesian founder, Cecil Rhodes) with his widowed step daughter Jean ( widow of the singer Clem Tholet who wrote the memorable but to all blacks extremely annoying song Rhodesians Never Die). Friends will remember Alec Smith with love and great sadness about a life cut off so early. He will also be remembered by those who served with him in the Moral Rearmament Movement. In his memoirs, Ian Smith said very little about his personal life but did once tell a reporter that he loved children. “In fact, I wish I had a lot more but of course it’s easy for the man to say that, isn’t it.”

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