Samuel Wells Smith was born on July 14, 1828 in Englewood, N.J., the son of James C. and Elizabeth R. Smith. Sam came to Dartmouth from Dwight Morrow High School of Englewood. He majored in earth sciences/geology while pursuing a lifelong passion for the outdoors. He was a member the Dartmouth Outing Club, Cabin and Trail, president of Bait and Bullet, and a member of the executive committee of the Winter Sports Council. After college he served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. He then taught science and coached soccer for 15 years in New Hampshire public and private schools.
In 1969 Sam returned to Dartmouth as Assistant Director of Admissions and later served as Associate Director of the Alumni Fund. He played a pivotal role in Dartmouth initiatives for the recruitment and advancement of minority students. He received numerous honors for his commitment to mentorship of high school and college students. His service to the College was recognized by the College and the Black Alumni of Dartmouth Association (BADA) with the dedication of a bench bordering the Dartmouth Green. At a 2011 ceremony, it was said of Samuel W. Smith,
"A founder of BADA, key supporter of the Dartmouth Outing Club, and long-time administrator at the College, Sam began a three generation Dartmouth legacy. The bench placement between Rollins Chapel and Dartmouth Hall, and looking over The Green toward Parkhurst personifies Sam's work as a mentor, educator, and administrator. The plaque for the bench reads: 'In honor of our friend, brother, and mentor Samuel W. Smith '49 The Black Alumni of Dartmouth Association (BADA) salutes you. You will live forever in our hearts.'"
Sam retired to Las Vegas, Nevada in 1995. He died there on August 14, 2011. He was survived by Señora Smith, Jeffrey L. Smith, Tamara A. Smith, Cynthia F. Smith, and Catherine Y. Smith.