Quentin I. Smith, Jr., Founding Chairman of EBRI, 1927−2011

Quentin Smith, Jr., one of the founders of EBRI, died May 20 at age 83.

Quentin I. Smith, Jr.

Smith, then-chairman and CEO of the consulting firm Towers, Perrin, Forster & Crosby, Inc. (now Towers Watson), played a key role in creating the Employee Benefit Research Institute following enactment of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974, the primary federal law governing private-sector retirement and health benefits.

Smith, along with Peter E. Friedes, CEO of Hewitt Associates, and the late Robert D. Paul, vice chairman of the Segal Company (1928−2003), first met in 1977 to discuss the need for a source of independent, reliable, and nonpartisan research on benefits issues in the wake of ERISA. Smith chaired an organizing group until EBRI was incorporated and legally constituted on Sept. 28, 1978, and served as its chairman and president from 1978 to 1981.

He received the EBRI Lillywhite Award in 1998 in recognition of “extraordinary lifetime contributions to Americans’ economic security.”

Smith’s first hire was Dallas Salisbury as EBRI’s chief operating officer─the position he still holds, 33 years later.

“For me, Quent Smith was an amazing mentor as I began my work at EBRI in my 20s, and his teachings and personal guidance continued to add value right into 2011,” Salisbury said. 

“EBRI has substantial reserves today, providing a solid financial foundation, because the fiscal philosophy of ‘bottom-line Quent,’ as he was fondly known at EBRI, Towers, and all other organizations that he touched, has guided every decision I have made at EBRI over the past 33 years. Quent is already missed, but we shall spend every day celebrating his life and his legacy and his teachings.”

A memorial service for Smith will be held in New York City in June. Those wishing to be notified of the service and location should e-mail salisbury@ebri.org

The New York Times obituary of Smith is online here.

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