Lynwood Smith and his friend Jerry Waugh both played for Kansas University basketball coach Phog Allen during the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Allen used to say that to truly evaluate a great player, one needs to wait 20 years and see how the athlete goes on to serve his community, Waugh recalled.
Dr. Smith, whose friends called him Lyn, must have measured up to Allen's greatness yardstick.
"Certainly Lyn is a wonderful example of a student-athlete who completed his competition and then went on to serve mankind," Waugh said.
Dr. Smith, an internal medicine physician who retired from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., died Tuesday at the age of 72.
He had been an active leader in the Lawrence community since he and his wife, Marty, returned to the home of their alma mater 7 1/2 years ago.
Dr. Smith was chairman of the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center board and led the committee that planned the Bert Nash Community Summit that took place in January 2001.
"He was an unflappable leader," said Pat Roach Smith, community development director at the center. "He was a very strong individual with an incredible sense of humor. He will be greatly missed."
Dr. Smith also was a Rotary Club member and served on the boards of the KU Alumni Association and the Hall Center for the Humanities.
"We have a huge hole left in our community because Lyn is gone," said Janet Crow, director of the Hall Center.
Crow also worked with Dr. Smith through the New Generation Society of Lawrence, an organization Dr. Smith co-founded with fellow Lawrence resident and KU alumus Robert S. Mueller.
The two formed the group in 1996 after reading a newspaper story about how more and more people were choosing to retire in college towns. The society currently has 183 members who participate in the group's frequent social events, educational opportunities and philanthropic efforts.
Mueller was deeply saddened by the death of his friend.
"It's hard to believe," Mueller said. "My wife and I, the community and the university have lost a very good friend. He did a great deal for the community in a very short time."
Waugh, who had remained friends with Dr. Smith since their college days, said the two not only played basketball together but also were fraternity brothers at Beta Theta Pi.
Dr. Smith also had played on KU's football team from 1948-1950.
He graduated in 1951 with a bachelor's degree in business administration and later returned to Kansas University's School of Medicine, where he received his medical degree in 1960. He practiced medicine at the Mayo Clinic for 35 years before he retired and moved to Lawrence.
"To my eye, he personifies really the finest characteristics that our generation can offer," said Fred Six, a classmate of Dr. Smith's and a Kansas Supreme Court justice. "As I have admired my contemporaries, he'd be in the pantheon of examples that I would like any young man to look to emulate."