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Wayne Smith

Wayne Van Cortlandt Smith, 79, of Scott Twp., died tragically in an automobile accident on June 9.

Born Jan. 29, 1939, in Brooklyn, N.Y., he was the son of the late Wallace Van Cortlandt and Olga Margaret (Theilgard) Smith. Wayne attended Westfield Senior High School and went on to study at Juilliard School in New York. He also trained as a piano technician while working at the Steinway Co. He proudly served in the United States Army Band. Wayne retired from FedEx; however, his lifelong passion was music.

His music career was extensive to say the least. He began as a magnificent bass player and then jazz pianist. Wayne taught at Juilliard School and gave private lessons to students who were enthralled by his teaching abilities. He played at weddings, public concerts, nightclubs and major venues as the featured musician as well as accompanying prominent jazz musicians/vocalists such as Honi Gordon and Spencer Reed. He wrote, produced and released several albums. He was a member of the Lackawanna County Arts, Culture and Education Council. Wayne's most recent musical venue that he truly enjoyed playing every two weeks was the Deerhead Inn, the oldest continuously running jazz club in the country. Crowds of people would come to listen to Wayne play. He also enjoyed cycling, hiking, cross country skiing, traveling, eating, socializing and was an accomplished mechanic.

Surviving are two sisters, Linda Smith and husband, Sam Jungkurth, of Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Elena Mead Slaughter and husband, Jace, of Elkton, Md.; nieces and nephews, Jens and Kirstine Jungkurth; and Jason and Cynthia E. Slaughter; great-nieces and great-nephews.

He was also preceded in death by sister, Karen Erickson.

Three memorial services will be announced and held at later dates in Scranton, Princeton, N.J., and at the Deerhead Inn. Interment will be held at Princeton Cemetery at the convenience of the family.

Donations in Wayne's memory would be appreciated. Education Through Music. Inc. in New York City , was chosen for their excellent programs in our public schools. Take the time to watch their short video.  It's lovely. https://etmonline.org/

Memorial Service for Wayne Smith

Saturday, September 22, 2018

from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM

at the

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton

Channing Hall
50 Cherry Hill Road, Princeton, NJ 08540

Please RSVP to lsmithart@gmail or 347-407-1006 ASAP

To plant memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Wayne Smith, please visit our flower store.


It was even better knowing Wayne than it was listening to him play. If you know how great Wayne played, you will understand how strong and perfect this sentiment is. It is always too soon for The Special.Ned Einstein

Ned Einstein Sep 29 2018 12:00 AM

My husband, Dan Fallon, and I first met Wayne through Derwyn Holder. Wayne occasionally performed with Derwyn's jazz trio. He and Derwyn were friends of many years, and we saw Wayne from time to time at Derwyn's house. On one memorable occasion, we attended a concert at the Elizabeth (NJ) Library. There are days when musicians are "on" in a performance, and this was one of them. Derwyn played piano, and he, along with Sue Terry on sax and Ron Naspo on bass, were really smokin'. Wayne was a guest performer. He, too, had caught the bug and and was riding high, performing his own composition. Afterwards, we all had dinner together. It was a terrific day.I formed a piano club, and Wayne was one of the members. We attended piano concerts in New York and the great pianists' film series at Lincoln Center. We also met at the Green Kitchen in Guttenberg, NJ to "talk piano" -- a truly wonderful gathering where we could share our individual interests and enjoy each other's company. Wayne was the bridge -- his interests were both classical and jazz. His tastes were eclectic and interesting. When he became intrigued by a piece, he explored it inside and out. It was a bit unusual, but often Wayne and I found ourselves studying/learning/performing the same works. For example, the preludes of Bach, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, and Gershwin.And there were phone calls. Wayne and I had many long conversations about piano literature -- what he was playing, what I was playing, what others were playing, or one pianist's recording over another.Wayne's personal qualities endeared him to me and to many others I know. He had such an infectious enthusiasm and excitement about anything that interested him. Most important, he was immensely kind and generous. In a world that can often be neither, he stood tall.When a much-loved person dies, you don't hear people discussing how much money he made or how successful he was, but you do hear about his acts of kindness...his goodness. These are the qualities that mean the most to us. When I think of Wayne, I hear his laughter, his enthusiasm, his intelligence, and his kind words. It's a tall order for anyone to fill, but he filled it effortlessly and beautifully. He was such a rare soul. We'll miss him very much.

Jody Wise Sep 17 2018 12:00 AM

My friends, Sam and Linda, have generously shared their holidays with me over the years. A basic feature was always Linda's brother Wayne, who, despite living far away, always came, usually with his portable piano. With this, he cheerfully provided professional accompaniment to our non-professional caroling, as well as entertaining the whole group with his own lively compositions. Losing him in such a cruel and abrupt way leaves a void that will never be filled.

Beverly Filbey Sep 17 2018 12:00 AM

I send my deep sympathy to Wayne's family, close friends and the music community -- Jazz in particular. What a tragic conclusion to his life.... at a time when, retired and unencumbered by responsibilities and challenges of earlier years, Wayne may have been the happiest ever! I will always remember the shock of his passing from an auto accident, and how unfair it seemed. I will remember his musical brilliance, his kindness, the fun of singing with him, and learning from the experience.Rest in peace, old friend, as the music that is you folds into the music of the universe where you will reside forevermore.

Rosemary Conte Sep 15 2018 12:00 AM

THE COMPOSITION OF AIR To Wayne Van Cortlandt Smith, January, 29, 1939 - June 9, 2018 'Did you know the first three notes of... ... ' (What was it?) 'are the same as ... ... ?' Why didn't I pay attention...then? Capture those motes of precious 'did you knows?' not understanding how important they would be nowa�" the ache to remember their blessed curiosity, so acute? But I didn't. But I remember these are the kinds of things only Wayne Smith would know and declarea�" as casually, or intensely, as he might share his newly found passion for the periodic tables, would know how Johan Sebastian breathed the same measures of air, centuries before they made their rounds again to pass through the alveoli of Debussy...to Bill Evans, and on, and on. Notes filling the lungs of those born to make sense of the myriad juxtapositional possibilities swarming the universea�" passing the rest of us by on a breeze. That air, only some of us can divinea�"from lungs to brain to hearta�" alloted their chosen place, by chosen fingers, then shareda�" became quintessentially Wayne's notes. Three might fill the lungs of some yet unborn jazz-child as it gasps its first breath, hears its first notes. Lia Di Stefano, June 2018

Lia Di Stefano Jul 22 2018 12:00 AM

Wayne, Wayne Selleck, and I met at the US Army Elememnt ("Elephant"), US Navy School of Music, in DC, in 1962. Such a talented musician marching with a bass drum or cymbals - how ironic. We lost track of each other until about 20 years ago. Wayne's piano playing was just coming into beautiful maturity in recent years. Most memorable memory: Him playing with a broken left arm, and incorporating the caste into his solo. I will miss him.

Henry Frank Jun 21 2018 12:00 AM

My heart was broken when I received the call about Wayne's tragic passing from Carmen S. It is so difficult to express the shock of losing such a wonderful friend and accomplished musician. Wayne and I have known each other for well over 40 years and I had the honor of sitting next to him as a drummer for many gigs. Wayne and I both moved up to northeast PA and followed each other and supported each other by attending each other's gigs. Wayne even played keyboard for a short time in a 4 piece group with me that was called "Easy Street" where I was the drummer. Yes, Wayne was an accomplished musician but more than that he was a kind human being. His unique laughter was contagious. We chatted often about health issues and made small talk about different topics. We would meet at Burger King, Duffy's Coffee Shop, The Settlers Inn in Hawley, PA for Jazz Wednesdays, Sabatinni's Bottle Shop in Exeter, PA and of course the Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap. I often calmed his frustrations over using the new iphone which drove him absolutely crazy at times. His famous words at the end of our phone conversations: "so long for now" will always be branded in my heart. And so it is "so long for now" because someday we will be gigging together. Wayne also reminded us that there was a reason why God gave us "two ears and only one mouth" and the symbolism embodied in that phrase.Our friendship will always be cherished and never forgotten. To Wayne's family I extend my deepest, heartfelt sympathy and if there is anything I can do to help you shoulder your grief please let me know. Chet Varner Hawley, PA

Chet Varner Jun 20 2018 12:00 AM

I was introduced to Wayne Smith in 1976, by my former teacher, Renan De Camp. We formed a great friendship through the years, at first playing duets together, our fondness for nature and animals, our sense of humor at the absurdity of life, the art of making music and being a musician...... Wayne was all of these things, including being a cat whisperer... We were planning to go to a memorium this summer to honor his great pianist and friend, Renan De Camp. Now when I go out to Montana, I will be honoring the both of them... They have been called to a higher gig.... Rest in Peace Wayne, you will always be in my heart and that of all your friends and family. Sincerely, Denise Santoro

Denise Santoro Jun 19 2018 12:00 AM

Wayne and I met back in '74. I was a singer and Wayne was my accompanist for almost 10 years. We would rehearse weekly at his home in Westfield. Wayne was very kind and I learned a lot from him with his extensive musical knowledge. We remained friends all these years and I would periodically meet him for one of his gigs at the DeerHead Inn. It was through Wayne that I got to meet some other great musicians that played on many of our gigs. I will miss Wayne, his youthful boyishness, his sense of humor and of course his great musical gifts. God bless you Wayne. May you rest in peace and add to the musical riches of heavan.

brian glynn Jun 18 2018 12:00 AM

To the family of Wayne Smith My sincere condolences for your loss. I had the privilege of playing bass behind Wayne in two house concerts several years ago which was followed by a few additional rehearsals at his home. I found Wayne to be a kind man and among the most eloquent of musicians who could move fluidly among the idioms of Jazz, blues and classical material. May his memory be a blessing for your family.

Bob Rothstein Jun 17 2018 12:00 AM

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