Both James Boswell and Edward Young labeled friendship, “the wine of life.”
The phrase is a fine characterization of the relationship between Holy Cross and one of its most loyal graduates.
The College has had few friends as generous and devoted as Park B. Smith ’54. Over the last decade or so, the name Smith has blossomed repeatedly on Mount St. James. The College community has been blessed with the gifts of the Carol and Park B. Smith Wellness Center, Carol and Park B. Smith Hall and, most recently, The Linda Johnson Smith Soccer Stadium (see Page 10). In fact, the catalyst that first ignited the Lift High the Cross Campaign was an initial $10 million donation from Park and Carol Smith, and the donation of $10 million from Park and Linda Smith, in the form of a challenge, was the inspiration that catapulted the campaign to its outstanding conclusion of $216 million.
And now—in the spirit of Boswell and Young—we are delighted to announce Smith’s latest gift to alma mater, which manages to merge two of the great joys of the man’s life: Holy Cross and his passion for fine wine.
As you’ll read in our cover story, Park Smith knows and loves his wine. The recipient of the COPIA award as the wine collector of the year, he was once named honorary mayor and vigneron of the town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which produces the wine of the same name—Smith’s favorite. His award-winning Manhattan restaurant, Veritas, is known to have one of the finest and most extensive wine lists in the Big Apple.
The man has spent years building one of the great collections in the world, traveling the globe, befriending vintners, consulting with the experts. Wine maven Robert Parker calls Smith’s cellar one of the greatest he has ever seen. Contemplating his renowned cellar recently, Smith made the decision to mount one of the largest wine auctions in history—with the proceeds going to Holy Cross for the construction or restoration of the College’s athletics facilities.
News of the auction set the wine world abuzz—and media attention has been plentiful. To handle the event, Smith chose Sotheby’s, the world’s oldest international auction house. Sotheby’s senior vice president and head of the company’s United States wine department, Jamie Ritchie, concurs with Robert Parker’s assessment of Smith’s collection, calling it “amazing” and “one of the best cellars in the world.”
The daylong auction, which will take place on Nov. 18 at Sotheby’s in New York, is expected to draw an international crowd that will include the most discerning wine connoisseurs in the world. It is also expected to break bidding records.
When Smith was presented with an honorary degree at the College’s Commencement in 2005, his citation exhorted him to “choose the wine for our table, dear friend, and we will proudly toast the Renaissance man that you have become.”
Clearly, Smith took those words to heart.
Today, as he empties much of that celebrated cellar, he looks forward once again to giving to his College, assisting in its betterment, tending to its future.
In wine circles, Smith is famous for scrupulously guarding his collection from such spoiling agents as heat, light and vibration. Wine authority Parker marvels at Smith’s insistence on “pristine provenance.”
Here on Mount St. James, we’re fortunate to witness that same degree of care and concern extended to alma mater.