A man of fierce resolve, compassion
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Having juggled the rigors of wrestling, pre-med classes and raising a family, Royal Smith knows what it’s like to run on what feels like an empty tank.
He also knows what it’s like to keep pushing once that tank seemingly dries up.
A man of fierce resolve, Smith gleaned life lessons aplenty from his days as a wrestler at the University of Colorado. Lessons he’s applied to all aspects of life.
Those lessons ” and the work ethic he developed by pulling off the ultimate of juggling acts ” carried Smith through medical school and a stint in the Navy. And those lessons helped shape his 35-year career as a radiologist at Valley View Hospital, a career that touched a number of lives.
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“I’d like to think that some of the lessons I learned from wrestling have applied to later life,” Smith said. “It really has. With hard work, I could compete and win ” and win a lot.”
Chalk up another win for the former national runner-up wrestler.
Tonight, Smith will be honored as Outstanding American by the Colorado Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame at its yearly banquet at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
The award’s more for what he did after wrapping up a decorated collegiate career.
In his lengthy tenure as chief of radiology at Valley View, Smith serviced several Western Slope hospitals. And he worked tirelessly to make sure all were serviced well.
“I think I did a good job of covering them all these years,” he said. “I did a good job of keeping the hospitals as close to cutting edge as possible in technology.”
That meant occasionally digging into his own pocket to purchase equipment. Anything to keep his department running in top form.
“I gained technology and the equipment I needed to do my job right,” Smith said, “and, of course, the hospital and the patient benefited, too. It’s about being competitive and wanting to be the best, or as close to the best you could get.”
There’s that fiery resolve again.
Smith’s years of hard work and countless noble gestures certainly garnered attention locally. Within the walls of Valley View lies the Dr. Royal Smith Imaging Center.
Smith’s longtime friend and former wrestling teammate at both Denver South High School and CU, Arnold Torgerson, couldn’t believe his childhood pal had a wing of the hospital named after him.
“I was so impressed that a friend of mine is so highly regarded that they named an important facility after him. I was so impressed,” explained Torgerson, who nominated Smith for the Outstanding American award, and is president of the NWHOF’s Colorado Chapter.
Needless to say, Smith’s name came to Torgerson’s mind when nomination time rolled around.
He couldn’t think of a better fit.
“I’ve always been proud of Roy for his being a doctor,” Torgerson said. “He’s so highly regarded. He told me when he was the radiologist at Valley View that he covered Rifle and all the other areas ” seven hospitals. Most didn’t have good equipment, so he bought three or four units for other hospitals. He was not only a good radiologist, but compassionate. He’s my idol.”
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Bridges High School graduates took part in a special ritual for their ceremony, each placing a rock in the center of the ring as their names and a few words were read.