Remembering Columbia's First Lifetime Trustee, Sydney Smith Gordon (1923-2017)

Former Columbia College Chicago trustee Sydney Smith Gordon, most recently of Colorado Springs, Colorado, passed away peacefully from natural causes on October 9, 2017. She was 94.

Sydney was first elected to Columbia’s Board of Trustees in 1970, and in recognition of her leadership and commitment was elected as the college’s first Lifetime Trustee in 1999. She remained active on the Board well into the current decade, and was also a longtime supporter of several endowed scholarship funds at the college.

Born April 6, 1923, in New York City to actors Loring Smith and Natalie “Sawyer” Dugan Smith, Sydney traveled with her parents as a young child, spending several years in Australia before returning to New York. She attended and graduated from Professional Children’s School while also working in theater.

As an adult, Sydney pioneered several radio and television shows in the early 1950s, including her daily program “Byline” for NBC and “Monitor” where she served as one of the theater and film reviewers, and covered major events like the Golden Globe Awards.

After moving to Chicago, Sydney became active in the theater community as Director of Communications for the Sara Siddons Society honoring women in theater; she was a Board member and Communications Director for Chicago Associates for Stratford Theatre Canada. Sydney was a founding Board member of Writers Theatre Chicago.

Outside of theater, Sydney was a passionate activist and advocate for the underrepresented and underserved. She was head of Chicago “Call for Action” and also served as the national president of that organization.

Sydney moved from Chicago to Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 2006 to be closer to family. For several years, she was a member of the Board for Colorado Festival of World Theatre and was a fixture at performances at the Fine Arts Center.

Sydney is survived by her daughter Allison Scott, son in law Allen Scott, grandchildren Gwen Abbott Asmussen of McCall, Idaho, Jeremy Abbott of Colorado Springs and Detroit, Aaron Kot of Columbia, South Carolina and great granddaughter Sophie Kot.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that a donation be made in Sydney’s name to Columbia College Chicago, or to any of the organizations that advocate for and support human rights.