He called himself “the world’s oldest rebel.” And when he railed against the system, he came across as the voice of experience, even as he deftly managed the young media environments of Twitter and podcasts.
Harry Leslie Smith made himself from nothing. He survived the Great Depression in abject poverty. He fought the Nazis in World War II. He created a comfortable life for his family but suffered two painful personal losses. In 1999, his wife of 52 years, Friede, died of cancer. A decade later, his middle son, Peter, who was in his 50s, died of a lung disease.
His son’s death finally tipped him over the edge to start writing his memoirs, at 87. His first was a book called “1923,” the year of his birth, published in 2010. Other books and essays spilled forth. An Englishman who lived part time in Canada, he wanted to shake the world into appreciating what had been won in World War II.
He went on to write four more books and was working on a sixth, about the refugee crisis, when he died on Wednesday at 95 in a hospital in Ontario.
– The New York Times