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  • Writer's pictureBeltsville News

Beltsville Loses A Great Teacher

The Beltsville community mourns the loss of a great teacher, Sensei Mark Smith. He was judo teacher at the Beltsville Community Center for over 30 years. He helped Mr. Ken Tamai run lots of clinics at tournaments at the Beltsville Academic Center making a positive impact on thousands of kids and adults in the community.

Mark passed away after his short battle with cancer, surrounded by his loved ones September 12, 2018. He was born on November 29, 1956, in Boston MA, the son of a Navy officer. He spent most of his childhood living in many different parts of the world. Eventually, his journey took him to Towson, MD where he earned a degree in Computer science and where he met his eternal best friend and wife of 34 years, Michele Smith. The couple had two sons, Blake and Tyler. While raising his sons, he dedicated his life to Judo and helping others. It was his passion. He was a long-time student and teacher at Hui-O-Judo Beltsville. His life characterized and embodied the best of what a judoka should be; sharing is love for judo and his knowledge with others. He touched thousands of lives in a very positive way. He continually worked with others to improve himself and the world around him. As a judoka, he competed in both shiai and in kata. He was always willing to be a partner, mentor, and a friend. He was a nationally certified referee and an internationally certified coach for the blind, low vision athletes. He was the founder and head sensei for the Department of Veteran Affairs’ adaptive judo program, “Warriors Again” and The Metro Washington Association of the Blind Athletes. He coached blind athletes from the local, regional and national level, to the world championships and a Para Olympic Silver medal. He dedicated his life to helping others without ever expecting anything in return. He is survived by his wife, two sons, and siblings Doug Smith, Paula McGee, and Kathy Linthicum. Anyone who came in contact with Mark can tell you, he was one of the most caring, intelligent, giving, and unique people to have graced this earth.

His son Tyler reminded us that Mark’s life could be summed up in two words – DREAM and LOVE. Tyler said his father told him to wake up every day with a new dream. Then spend the day making it a reality. Some dreams are short-term and can be fulfilled that day. Other dreams will take longer but need to be worked on every day. Always have a dream, always follow your dreams and make them happen. The second word was love. You should love your life. Love the people who are in your life. Be thankful for all of the love you have in your life. If you love your professional career, you will never work a day in your life. Do everything with passion and enjoy what you do every moment.

There was a Mass to honor his life at St. John Newman Church in Annapolis. Sensei Kevin Tamai gave the eulogy. He reminded us to live our lives like Mark did and make the most of our “dash.” Honor Mark’s life by continuing to grow and develop the judo community. Give freely of your time and resources to help other people. We are all blessed to have known Sensei Mark Smith and to have him touch our lives. People can donate to Metro Washington Association of Blind Athletes at Please specify in honor of Mark Smith. Or to Hui-O-Judo Beltsville.

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