The Clemson Alumni Association presented William (Bill) C. Smith, Jr. of Columbia, South Carolina with the 2018 Distinguished Service Award, the association’s highest honor for a Clemson graduate.
“The Distinguished Service Award allows us to take time to recognize a few truly remarkable members of the Clemson family – and Bill Smith is certainly one of those,” said Clemson University President James P. Clements. “Bill achieved incredible success on the football field, in his career in real estate, through his devotion to community service and in his commitment to making Clemson University better every day. We are proud of Bill and the example of service he sets for all of us.”
Born and raised in Duncan, Smith grew up playing several sports at James F. Byrnes High School before accepting a scholarship to play football at Clemson University. He was a four-year letterman and a starting defensive end on Clemson’s 1981 National Championship team before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in administrative management in 1982.
Smith’s career began in real estate sales, then he co-founded the company Holmes Smith Developments. He later co-founded and became CEO of Red Rock Developments LLC, a commercial real estate development company based in Columbia with an office in Charlotte. He is a member of the South Carolina and North Carolina economic developers’ associations and the national Industrial Asset Management Council, and is a graduate of Leadership Columbia and Leadership South Carolina.
Smith has held numerous leadership positions in several nonprofit organizations, including Shandon Baptist Church in Columbia. He has served on the boards of directors for the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame, Hammond High School, the EdVenture Children’s Museum and the Columbia Urban League. For his performance on the football field and contributions in leadership and community service, Smith was awarded Clemson’s Brian Dawkins Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.
Smith has also given back to the Clemson community. He was elected to Clemson’s board of trustees in 1996 and became a lifetime member in 2007. As a trustee, he has served as vice chairman and chaired all 11 committees, including the finance and facilities committee five times. He currently chairs the land and capital asset stewardship committee. Smith is a member of the university’s land stewardship and real estate foundations, and he also serves on the board of the football program’s P.A.W. Journey. Smith and his wife have supported both academics and athletics consecutively for 36 years. They also established the Smith Family Endowment for unrestricted scholarships at Clemson.
The prestigious Clemson Alumni Distinguished Service Award is based on three main criteria: personal and professional accomplishments; dedication and service to Clemson University; and devotion to community and public service. Members of the Clemson family nominate potential winners, who are then selected by the Clemson Alumni Association as outstanding alumni, public servants and examples to others.
“Bill has been a servant leader at Clemson and a loyal supporter who has contributed countless hours of his time in addition to significant financial contributions over the past 30 years,” writes David E. Dukes, a partner in the law firm Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough. “He is highly respected by the Clemson community, the business community and the South Carolina General Assembly.”
Smith is married to Elizabeth “Beth” Black Smith and they live in Columbia and Clemson. Their son, Cannon, played on Clemson’s 2016 Football National Championship team — making him and his father one of five Clemson father-son football champions. He is expected to graduate in December. Their daughter, Catherine “Kaki” Mac Lain ’15, M ’17, lives in Greenville with her husband Eric Mac Lain ’15, M ’17.