William H. Smith

1919 to 1988
Coal Resources

William H. SmithWilliam H. Smith was a valued member of the Illinois State Geological Survey's Coal Section. He had given 20 years of service by the time of his retirement. After serving as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy in World War II, he received his B.S. and M.S. from Ohio State University in 1946 and 1947, respectively. He then joined the Ohio Geological Survey, where he was in charge of the Coal Geology Division. Already armed with considerable knowledge of the state's Pennsylvanian coal fields, he was hired in 1955 by the Illinois State Geological Survey.

Smith made numerous contributions to the Survey on coal resources and the geology of coal seams. He served as senior author on 11 reports and coauthor on 10 more between 1957 and 1976. He also coauthored a number of annual Keystone industry reports with Jack Simon. Most noteworthy are Smith's extensive countywide investigations in the 1950s and 1960s of Illinois' strippable coal resources, for which he did much of the mapping himself. He also conducted fundamental studies on the geology of shales and coal-bearing sequences. Of special note was his use of the information on strippable resources and water resources in putting together a cooperative report with the Illinois State Water Survey on suitable locations for coal conversion plants in Illinois in 1975. He worked with the Survey's computer experts at the time in developing estimates of strippable coal resources-key to the resulting computerized calculations of strippable coal resources that were initiated in 1975 and to ensuing programs aimed at improving both Survey and federal estimates of demonstrated coal reserves and available coal resources.

He retired from the Survey in 1975, after which he founded William H. Smith and Associates and, later, GeoGraphics Corporation, which specialized in computer hardware and software. Both businesses were located in Champaign-Urbana. At the time of Smith's retirement, Chief Jack A. Simon noted with appreciation that he “left the Survey in an enviable position” relative to coal resource studies

Honored by: 
James C. Cobb, Margaret H. Bargh, Lawrence E. Bengal, Christopher Korose, and Colin G. Treworgy
Citation Contributed by: 
Myrna M. Killey
From unpublished memo of M.W. Leighton, December 5, 2005.