SFNet Mourns the Passing of Past Chairman Ronald C. Smith

November 29, 2021

By SFNet


The staff and volunteer leaders of the Secured Finance Network are saddened to hear of Ron’s passing. We express our sincerest condolences to his family. 

Ronald established a national reputation as a leader in the commercial finance industry. He began his career at Civic Finance Corporation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the early 1960s. Ron then joined First Wisconsin Financial Corporation, the asset-based lending division of First Wisconsin Bank (later Firstar), in the early 1970s, going on to become President of that division in 1984. He was active in the National Commercial Finance Association, where he served for several years on its board, and as the organization’s President and Chairman. Ron left Firstar in 1990, planning to retire, but was hired by Congress Financial Corporation to open and run a Milwaukee office. He remained in that role until 1995, when he again planned to retire. However, a few months later he was asked to join the commercial finance division of NorWest. Ron ultimately retired in 1998. He and his beloved wife Barbara were then able to travel together and spend more time with friends and family.

Ronald Smith was born April 11, 1932 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the only child of Mabel and Norman Smith. He graduated from Washington High School in Milwaukee and then attended University of Wisconsin (Milwaukee), where his education was interrupted by the Korean conflict. He proudly served two years in the Army, including time in Korea. After his service, Ron returned to complete his education at University of Wisconsin-Madison where he was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, and graduated with a degree in Business, later becoming a CPA. After college, Ron met Chicagoan Barbara Ann Rush, marrying in 1959.

Ron loved being with family and friends—teaching his children to ski, traveling with Barbara, playing tennis with friends on Men’s Night at Western Racquet Club in Elm Grove WI, playing softball with the “Boys of Summer” and golfing with “the Firerockers” at Firerock Country Club in Scottsdale AZ. An active, engaged dad in a generation when that was not the norm, Ron instilled in his three children the lifelong values of work, integrity, humility and close relationships. 

Ron is survived by his wife Barbara, son Jeffrey (Jillisa), son Michael (Tiffany), daughter Kristin, and grandchildren Max (Prentiss), Harrison, Alec, Sabrina, Marissa, Sam, Nathan, Noah, Talia, Andrew and Matthew.

A Celebration of Life will take place on Saturday, December 11th, from 12Noon to 2:30PM at Lake Park Bistro, 3133 E Newberry Blvd, Milwaukee, WI 53211. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the American Cancer Society.