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… and a wonderful life it was.

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A dear friend died on December 30th. A few weeks prior to hearing the news I’d been complaining that newspaper obituaries comprise mostly overblown adjectives and shop-worn phrases and say little about the way someone’s lived their life and what’s on their mind as death approached. Turns out that Brian left an Adieu in his own words. What a splendid gift.

Diagnosed with mesothelioma in July 2007, I have spent the last two years fighting that insidious disease and coming to terms with my life. Born, raised and educated in London, England, I received a master’s degree from Queen Elizabeth College, University of London. Having developed an early passion for all things French and for food and wine in particular, I had the great good fortune to work with wine most of my life, and a wonderful life it was.

I worked hard some of the time and played hard most of the time, enjoying soccer, cricket, volleyball, tennis, and exercise in general. Taking in life and all that it has to offer has been my greatest pleasure. Travel to most of the wine-producing nations in the world provided me with unequalled opportunities, and introduced me to some of the finest humans on the planet, whom I am honored to call my friends. My long time association with the Society of Wine Educators has been a natural extension of those friendships.

For the past 22 years I have been lucky enough to be a Professor of Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America, and have authored a number of books. The Sommelier’s Guide to Wine is my venture as a solo writer. I am the co-author of Exploring Wine and WineWise; the last received the James Beard Award 2009 for Best Beverage Book and the George Duboeuf Wine Book of the Year Award 2009.

Although I lived happy and died happy, I am saddened to leave behind my adored wife Polly Adema and my cherished children Lauren and Drew. Also surviving are my father, Bernard W. Smith, and brothers Bernard, Ramon and Colin, all in England. My beloved and much missed mother, June Rose née Hitchcock passed away in 2000. In celebration of my life, please raise a glass of sparkling wine and drink to all that I enjoyed.


4 responses »

  1. Beautifully written and an example for us all!
    Blessings to you Brian:-)

    • I’ve read and re-read Brian’s words several times. So glad he wrote them–what a friend to so many! His wife Polly told me that several papers balked at using his “first person singular” letter as an obituary. p

      • Scott Gabriel

        I am persuaded that there is no better description of a man than that which he can express himself. A fine man he was.

  2. Lisa Richerson

    Peter, thank you for publishing Brian’s beautiful words. He was well loved and did indeed live a wonderful life.

    My love and my prayers go out to all his friends, his children, his family and his adored wife (and my friend) Polly.

    A lovely tribute!


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