Anyone who knew Leon Polk Smith well was struck time and again by his force of character. As Robert Mead Jamieson, Smith's assistant and companion of more than four decades, has often said summarizing their life together, "there was never a dull moment." Smith (1906-1996) was a highly original artist who possessed all his mental faculties and considerable physical strength to the end of his long and productive life. He was also known for strong opinions, especially about art and politics, and had a quick temper, regarding which, most friends and aquintances agreed, it was best not to be on the receiving end.
Early formative influences on Leon Polk Smith's character took place in legendary American circumstances. His family was among the nineteenth-century settlers in the West. His parents had arrived in present-day Oklahoma from Tennessee at the end of the great westward movement, probably after the Oklahoma land run of 1889, and had settled on land in what was still called Indian Territory. Smith was the eighth of nine children. Undoubtedly, in his youth he encountered many occasions at home in which he had to speak loudly and act quickly to defend his rights.
– Robert T. Buck
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