In Memoriam

Thomas L. Smith
Mr. International Rubber 1999
July 3, 1957 - January 21, 2020

It is with great sadness that we at Mr. International Rubber have learned of the passing of Thomas Smith, Mr. International Rubber 1999, and the second man to hold the title. He passed away peacefully at his home in Palm Springs at the age of 62.

Thomas set the bar for what an active and involved titleholder could do during their title year and beyond. Thomas was a judge for MIR2000 (his step down year) as well as MIR2001, MIR2003, and MIR2005. As such, he helped to shape the fledgling rubber contest by picking our earliest winners, growing the initial circle of rubber ambassadors. At his step-down, Thomas was recognized by the MIR Contest Producers "as representing the title with dignity, passion and a lot of hard work. He showed an intense desire to create a groundwork, upon which the men who will hold the title in the future can build."

He was recognized with the President’s Award from Pantheon of Leather in 2000 and the Southeast Regional Pantheon of Leather Award in 2011. Thomas was the inaugural recipient of the 2011 Connell-Stanley Award for Kentucky Leather Person of the Year. He was President of the Lexington Lyons Leather Club in Kentucky. He was Mr. Kentucky Leather 1997 and Mr. International Rubber 1999. Thomas created the Leadership Forum online as a resource for leaders; and was Chair and Board member for the Leather Leadership Conference. In 2014, Greater Palm Springs Pride named him as a Community Grand Marshall for that year's festivities.

All who met him remarked on his kindness, laughter and smile. He was just one of the nicest guys you’d ever meet. Thomas last attended MIR in 2011, shortly after we became an independent entity and moved to Center on Halsted. He was amazed at the growth of the event in the new space, and was very encouraged for what the future would hold for MIR as an organization, and for the rubber community in general.

An author published in print and on-line, his book “Journey In Leather by Thomas Smith” was named a finalist in the Gay and Lesbian: Non-Fiction category for the 2013 International Book Awards. His other books, many also award winning, include: “Heartbeat: Musings on Leather and Leadership”; “Living Leadership”; “Shades of Leadership”; and “Dream Leaders : Insights on Community Service and Leadership.” His mentorship, integrity and optimism carried over between his private and professional life.

Born on July 3, 1957, he earned undergraduate degrees in economics and business administration and graduate degrees in public administration and management. Thomas was very proud to be a congressional intern with the United States Congress at the young age of 17. He went on to work for the US Treasury as the examiner in charge for what was then the second largest bank in the world. He was most proud of his thirty years of service as a Rotarian where he served as assistant governor in Palm Springs, CA. He also served on the board of governors for Desert Regional Hospital.

Thomas leaves behind his partner of 22 years, Joshua Smith. Thomas and Joshua shared three daughters and eight grandchildren; a family that Thomas loved as his own. Our condolences are extended to Joshua and all those who knew and loved Thomas. He will be greatly missed.

May he forever shine.

William "Rubberwilli" Schendel, on behalf of The Mr. International Rubber Team