Joseph T. Smith, 82, of Gladwyne, a human resources company executive, died Monday, Nov. 26, of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases at Waverly Heights, a retirement community where he had lived for the last 18 months.
Mr. Smith joined the Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co. in Philadelphia in 1963. He was promoted to vice president of administration and human resources in 1976 and continued in that role until resigning from the firm in 1980.
From 1981 to 1984, Mr. Smith worked as an independent consultant offering a range of services to businesses.
In August 1984, he joined Right Management Consultants Inc., a human resources and outplacement services firm in Center City. His first title was senior consultant for professional services. He was named regional managing principal with responsibility for the Philadelphia office at 1818 Market St. in August 1988.
In September 1992, Richard J. Pinola, a former colleague of Mr. Smith's at Penn Mutual, joined Right Management as an independent board member. Nine months later, Pinola was named CEO. He was given the task of building a new management team.
"I brought Joe in as, in effect, my right-hand man," Pinola said. "I made him chief operating officer, and together we built a team of highly qualified people." In the next 11 years, the company acquired 60 businesses, amassed a workforce of 3,000 worldwide, and got the company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
With the new management team in place, Right Management was named by Forbes magazine as one of the best 200 small American companies "for three years running," 1993 to 1995, Inquirer columnist Peter Binzen wrote in a Jan. 15, 1996, article.
"Joe was an integral part of absorbing and training those businesses," Pinola said.
In 1994, Mr. Smith was named company president in addition to COO. He held both titles until December 1998, when he became vice chairman of the board, with Pinola serving as chairman and CEO. Mr. Smith retired as vice chair on Jan. 1, 2001.
"He was a great man," Pinola said. "When Joe retired, I did a video for him. It said that in all of our countries and among our clients, customers and employees, I never met anybody who didn't like Joe."
His family said Mr. Smith thrived at Right Management. "Joe was best known in the workplace for his sharp intellect, strategic leadership, and his extraordinary respect and caring for those around him," his family said.
Born in Manayunk, Mr. Smith graduated from Roxborough High School. For a time, he studied engineering at Pennsylvania State University, but ultimately decided to go into business.
He served as an Army engineer deployed to Heilbronn, Germany, from 1957 to 1961. His family said he was commended in a letter by his superiors for his leadership ability and commitment to duty.
Both throughout his business career and in retirement, Mr. Smith was a mentor and friend to many. He was known for his warm, engaging smile.
"He was deeply loved in whatever community he joined," his family said. "In the last phase of his life at Waverly Heights, he was known by many as 'Uncle Joe, Mayor of Waverly Heights'."
An outdoorsman, Mr. Smith enjoyed fishing, hunting, skiing, and playing tennis and golf. "He found joy in nature and passed that on to all of his children," the family said.
He coached youth sports in Lower Merion. He loved cars and motorcycles.
"One of his most amazing qualities was his ability to spontaneously meet and strike up a conversation with anyone along his path," his family said. "He always remembered people's names and made friends regardless of their age, race, or position."
He is survived by his wife of 36 years, Karen A. DiNunzio; children Bryan Smith, Heather Smith Heard, and Jennifer Smith; two grandchildren; and a sister. He was formerly married to Rosemarie Leddy, who also survives.
A visitation at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, will be followed by a 2 p.m. memorial service at Gladwyne Presbyterian Church, 1321 Beaumont Dr., Gladwyne. Burial is private.