NOVI, MI (June 6, 2016) – You say you don't know Fox Run retirement community resident George Smith? Then think again.
If you drive a car made by General Motors (GM), some of the features in your vehicle are more than likely based on research conducted by George, who worked for the auto company for 40 years as a research physicist. Much of his research focused on liquid crystals, which were eventually used to make instrument display panels in cars.
"One of the things that was good about doing research at GM was that the company encouraged basic research—research that didn't have immediate application," he said. "Much of what I did was in solids, liquids, gases, alloys, and plastic crystals. I loved it, and because of that work, I was elected a fellow of the American Physical Society."
George has published more than 100 physics papers and 17 patents. One of the highlights of his career was meeting renowned Danish physicist Niels Bohr, a Nobel prizewinner whose work was important to the understanding of atomic structure and quantum theory.
"He came into my lab and asked about the research I was doing," George said. "It was one of the greatest thrills of my life."
George did his undergraduate studies at Knox College in Illinois, where he met Mary Lee Sackett, who would later become his wife. The couple moved to Houston, Texas, and he worked on his Ph.D. at Rice University while Mary Lee served as a social worker at MD Anderson Cancer Center.
When George got his Ph.D., the Rice graduate wives awarded Mary Lee her "PHT" (Putting Hubby Through). After a year's post-doctoral fellowship, he and Mary Lee traveled to Europe. George was then offered a position at GM Research Laboratories, and they relocated to Michigan.
As former docents at the Detroit Zoo, George and Mary Lee endowed a monetary prize for outstanding physics students at their alma mater, Knox College.
In 1999 George retired from General Motors Research as principle research scientist. This gave him and Mary Lee ample time to engage in travel and other activities.
In 2007 the couple moved to Fox Run from Birmingham, Michigan.
At Fox Run they both belong to the poetry and prose group, the writing forum, and the recycling committee. George currently chairs the music study group and the history club.
George and Mary Lee, who will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in September, have two sons, a grandson, and a granddaughter.