The AACA Museum, Inc. loses one of its founders: William H. "Bill" Smith

One of the AACA Museum's primary founders and friend to the old car hobby, William "Bill" Smith has passed away.

Hershey, PA - The AACA Museum, Inc. announced the passing of one of its primary founders: William H. "Bill" Smith. 

"On behalf of the entire Museum Community, our volunteers, Board members and donors, I want express condolences to the family and the loss to the hobby," said Jeffrey Bliemeister, Museum Executive Director.

"Bill was larger than life.  He accomplished so much yet did it in a way without seeking attention to himself. He was a true gentleman," continued Bliemeister.

William H. "Bill" Smith

Willian H "Bill" Smith

Bill was involved in the old car hobby from an early age, buying restoring and modifying vehicles of all types. A native of the Wilkes Barre Scranton area and a US Navy Veteran, he rose to national prominence when he became Executive Director of the Hershey, PA-based Antique Automobile Club of America, a position he held for 17 years. Under his tenure and through his leadership the Club grew in size and scope, with the formation of the AACA Museum and AACA Library and Research Center. He also served as president of all three organizations.

Bill was an active member of various professional organizations, such as SEMA and ARMO and the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Mequiar's Person of the Year, which he received in 2005. While he was proud of the honors he received, it was really the people he met and worked with that mattered. His list of friends and supporters was a veritable "who's who" of the automotive hobby.

 "It didn't matter if you were a world-famous celebrity, an owner of a multi-million-dollar collection, or a stranger just met at a car show, Bill treated everyone with the same warmth and respect," remembers Bliemeister.  "He was a true ambassador for our hobby, and he will be greatly missed."

In 2019, the Museum created a recognition program for those who have made noteworthy contributions toward the institution's advancement, entitled the William H. Smith Fellowship. On Wednesday, October 6th, this year's class of William H. Smith Fellows will be inducted at our annual Night at the Museum gala. 

Bill was preceded in death by his wife, Jeanie. Part of their joint legacy is memorialized in the Museum's Rotunda which bears their names. "Fall Hershey," the world's most celebrated swap meet and automotive gathering saw Bill in his element. The Museum will pay honor to his memory with a special week-long lobby display, which includes the 1959 Chevrolet El Camino that he restored to award-winning status.

There will be a Celebration of Life Memorial Service

Wednesday, September 29, 2021
Smith Rotunda of the AACA Museum, Hershey, PA

A memorial service celebrating the life of William H. "Bill" Smith will be held on Wednesday, September 29th at 4:00 pm in the William H. & Jeanne H. Smith Rotunda of the AACA Museum, Inc., 161 Museum Drive, Hershey, Pennsylvania.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the newly created, William H. "Bill" Smith Scholarship Fund. The AACA Museum is pleased to announce that through the generosity of an anonymous donor, a $10,000 donation has been directed to initiate this new scholarship fund. "Bill was always interested in the next generation and the future," said Jeffrey Bliemeister, Executive Director of the Museum. "I know he would be thrilled at the thought of his memory being honored in this special way," continued Bliemeister.

A special account has been established to shepherd scholarship donations. Those interested in honoring Bill in this way may direct contributions to the "William H. "Bill" Smith Scholarship Fund" care of Jeffrey Bliemeister, AACA Museum, Inc., 161 Museum Drive, Hershey, PA 17033.

The memorial is open to all and no RSVP is required. Standard Covid-19 protocols will be observed.

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