Mines News

Release Date Thursday, July 8, 2021

91 Years Young


For 91-year-old Lowery Smith resiliency is the key to a long, fulfilling life. Smith graduated from South Dakota Mines in 1951 with a degree in geological Engineering and is a multiple gold medal winner at the National Senior Games.  Photo credit:  Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota


For 91-year-old Lowery Smith resiliency is the key to a long, fulfilling life.

Smith graduated from South Dakota Mines in 1951 with a degree in geological Engineering. His parents were teachers on the Pine Ridge Reservation, where they moved from Michigan in 1938. Smith’s father volunteered to be a Navy recruiter during World War II. The family moved to Rapid City when Smith was in ninth grade.

Smith graduated from Rapid City High School and subsequently enrolled at Mines; he played football and was on the track team at both. The stakes were a little higher at Mines: in order to compete in sports at that time, a student had to pass 12 credit hours. Smith was enrolled in 17 hours, six of which were in physics.

“If I didn’t pass physics, I wouldn’t be able to compete [in sports],” he said. So he studied with a tutor – and passed. “You never know where somebody’s going to make a difference for you,” he said.

Smith obtained a bachelor’s degree in geological engineering in 1951, and went on to work at Exxon, Hercules Power Company, and the J.L. Shiely Company, and served as president of the Minnesota FracSand Company. In 1989, he started his own company, Ag-Lime Sales, Inc., which he ran until 2016 – retiring at the age of 87.

Shortly before retiring, Smith became depressed. The losses of family members and close friends who hadn’t lived to be his age were weighing on him. He read a book called The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully by Joan Chittister and was particularly inspired by the chapter called “Dreams.” He then decided to get back into sports with the goal of competing in the National Senior Games.

Each state has its own National Senior Games- sanctioned competitions, at which a senior must qualify in order to compete in the national games. At the 2017 Minnesota Senior Games, Smith won medals in singles racquetball, shot put, discus and javelin. At the national competition that year, he participated in singles and doubles racquetball, shot put, discus and javelin; he received a silver medal in doubles racquetball and ribbons in the track events.

Then, due to a rotator cuff injury, Smith was no longer able to throw the javelin. 

In the 2019 Minnesota Senior Games, Smith won gold medals in discus and shot put. At the national competition that year, he won gold medals in singles and doubles racquetball, the bronze medal in shot put, and fourth place in discus.

Smith is featured in promotional commercials and videos for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, a sponsor of the Minnesota Senior Games. 

Through the years, Smith has always remembered Mines. He has many fond memories of times spent with the Twin Cities alumni group, especially floating on inner tubes down the Apple River in Wisconsin.

“I miss those times,” he said. He and his wife, Mary Ann, sponsor an athletic scholarship for Mines students. “I’m very grateful for the good educational foundation I was able to get there,” he said.


About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,418 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 97 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $68,685. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram and Snapchat.

Contact: Mike Ray, 605-394-6082, mike.ray@sdsmt.edu

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