Patrick D. Smith is a 1999 inductee into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame, which is the highest and most prestigious cultural honor that can be bestowed upon an individual by the state of Florida. A native of Mendenhall, Mississippi, he holds a B.A. degree and a Master’s degree in English from the University of Mississippi. He moved to Florida in 1966.
In May 2002 Smith was the recipient of the Florida Historical Society’s Fay Schweim Award as the “Greatest Living Floridian.” The one-time-only award was established to honor the one individual who has contributed the most to Florida in recent history.
Smith is the author of seven novels: The River Is Home, The Beginning, Forever Island, Angel City, Allapattah, A Land Remembered, and The Seas That Mourn, and a story collection, A white Deer. He is also co-author of the non- fiction book The Last Ride and author of the non-fiction book In Search of The Russian Bear.
Patrick D. Smith has been nominated three times for the Pulitzer Prize, in 1973 for Forever Island, which was a 1974 selection of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books both in the English language edition and in all of the worldwide foreign language editions; in 1978 for Angel City, which was produced as a “Movie of the Week” for the CBS television network; and in 1984 for A Land Remembered, which was an Editors’ Choice selection of the New York Times Book Review. In the annual statewide The Best of Florida poll taken by Florida Monthly Magazine, A Land Remembered has been ranked #1 Best Florida Book ten times.
Smith’s lifetime work was nominated for the 1985 Nobel Prize for Literature.
Previous honors include: Tebeau Prize for A Land Remembered as the Most Outstanding Historical Novel, Florida Historical Society, 1986; Outstanding Author Award, Council for Florida Libraries, 1986; Communications Achievement Award, Space Coast Writers Guild, 1987; Communications Achievement Award, Toastmasters International, 1987; Environmental Writer’s Award, Florida Audubon Society, 1987; FLORIDA TODAY Best Writer Award, 1987, 1990, 1992; Medal of Honor, National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution, 1988; Order of the South Award, Southern Academy of Letters, Arts and Sciences, 1996; Florida Ambassador of the Arts Award, Florida Department of State, 1996; the first Florida Cracker Heritage Award, presented for outstanding contribution to Florida Cracker pioneer heritage, Florida Cracker Trail Association, 1997; Lifetime Achievement Award, Lee County Reading Festival, Fort Meyers, 2001; Florida Literary Legend Award, Florida Heritage Book Festival, St. Augustine, 2008.
In 1990, Florida PBS-TV released a documentary, “VISIONS OF NATURE, Patrick Smith’s Florida,” which portrays his work as a writer and his “on-the-site” research. In 2007 Panorama Studios released a documentary, “Patrick Smith’s Florida, A SENSE OF PLACE,” that has won several top film awards.
In October 1990 Smith received the University of Mississippi’s Distinguished Alumni Award and was inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame. In 1997, the Florida Historical Society created a new annual award, the Patrick D. Smith Florida Literature Award, in his honor.
By an act of the 2006 Florida Legislature, a section of a major highway, SR 520 running from East Merritt Island across the Banana River to Cocoa Beach, was named the Patrick D. Smith Causeway. Secretary of State Sue Cobb was the dedication speaker with Senator Bill Posey acting as emcee.
In June 2013, Smith was selected as one of the Great Floridians. Governor Rick Scott and his wife personally came to his home to give him this award.
Patrick D. Smith passed away on January 26, 2014. His wife Iris still lives on Merritt Island.