Warren Allen Smith, 95, Author and Longtime New Canaan High School Teacher

Warren Allen Smith, a teacher, editor, businessman, and author, died on Jan. 8, 2017, of happiness.

Warren Allen Smith

Mr. Smith was born on Oct. 29, 1921, in Minburn, Iowa, the son of a South Dakota homesteader’s daughter and a grain dealer who was a scout for the Chicago Cubs’ farm team in Portland, Ore. Drafted into the U.S. Army (1942-1946), he landed as an Acting First Sergeant on Omaha Beach (1944), and in 1945 became Chief Clerk of the Adjunct General’s Office, Supreme Headquarters (SHAEF), in the Little Red Schoolhouse, Reims, France. In 1948, he received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa, and in 1949, with Lionel Trilling as his advisor, received his master’s degree from Columbia University.

Mr. Smith taught English at the Bentley School in Manhattan (1950-1954); New Canaan High School (1954-1986); and at Teachers College, Columbia University (1961-1962). In the 1950s he was a Book Review Editor of The Humanist; wrote reviews for the Library Journal; and, under the name of ‘Lvcretivs,’ founded the Hvmanist Book Clvb. In 1961, with paramour Fernando Vargas Zamora, he founded Variety Recording Studio, a major independent company in Times Square (first, at 225 W. 46th St, then at 130 W. 42nd St, advertised as being “in the heart of showbiz.”) Mr. Vargas and Mr. Smith were companions for 40 years until Mr. Vargas’s death in 1989.

Mr. Smith was the personal agent to Gilbert Price, a three-time Tony Award nominee, from 1963 until Mr. Price’s death in 1989. In 1971, Mr. Smith co-founded Taursa, a mutual fund he named by combining Taurus and Ursa. He was chairman of the International Mensa Investment Club from 1976 to 1993.

Eight of Mr. Smith’s works were published after he reached the age of 80: “Who’s Who in Hell,” a 1,264-page biographical listing of over 10,000 philosophic non-believers; “Celebrities in Hell,” a biographical listing of people whose belief systems ran against the grain; “Gossip from Across the Pound,” a collection of a decade of his columns in the United Kingdom’s Gay & Lesbian Humanist organization; “Cruising the Deuce,” written under the pseudonym Allen Windsor, a description of Manhattan grind houses and the subculture that flourished on 42ndStreet in the 1940s through the 1980s; his three-volume autobiography, “In the Heart of Showbiz, A Biographical Triography of Variety Recording Studio, of Fernanda Vargas, and of Warren Allen Smith”; and the “Unforgettable New Canaanites,” an irreverent look at the Connecticut town in which he taught for 32 years.

Mr. Smith’s free online search engine, Philosopedia, received over 6 million hits between its inception and the day of his death. Mr. Smith was an activist member of ACT UP (and participated in the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village in 1969); the Bertrand Russell Society (a member of the Board from 1977 until 2014); Freethinkers NY (a co-founder); Mensa (1964 until his death); the New York Society of Ethical Culture; the Rationalist Press Association (United Kingdom); and the Unitarian Society.

Mr. Smith left no survivors.

6 thoughts on “Warren Allen Smith, 95, Author and Longtime New Canaan High School Teacher

  1. Warren Smith inspired so many students at NCHS! He always challenged us and made us read, read, read! We will miss him!

  2. I had many conversations with Warren but regrettably never had him as a teacher. What a lovely, interesting, generous and bright man.

  3. One of the great teachers of all time. Able to connect to virtually all kids – bringing out the best in the indifferent and helping the gifted to achieve even more. He even turned us on to John Barth! RIP WAS.

  4. Greatly enjoyed Warren for a couple of classes at NCHS. My mother taught there and they were friends and I still recall 40 years later a night he had dinner with our family. Great guy, interesting character, very bright, vibrant, diverse, debt of soul ( the non-religious sort of course), countered by name dropper extraordinaire, and as a teacher focused on what was important for you to know and develop, with a little fun and eccentricity mixed into the lesson plan (Yes Mr. Smith a run on sentence) . In 1970’s New Canaan, a wonderful breath of fresh air who helped and motivated so many.

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