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Rex Smith ’74

Managing the Times

By Donna Parker

Rex Smith, who received a bachelor’s degree in American studies from Trinity in 1974, is the editor of the Times Union newspaper in Albany, N.Y., and it’s a job he relishes. There was that short foray into politics, when he served as a Congressional aide and considered running himself, until he remembered… 

“Politics is the pursuit of power, but journalism is the pursuit of truth.”

 “When I got out of grad school at Columbia, I was hired by Newsday on Long Island, for which I was a political reporter for 11 years.  The paper asked me to cover the presidential campaign of Mario Cuomo, who, of course, didn’t run, but I found myself in Albany.  Newsday decided to appoint me the state capitol bureau chief.”

“I married my wife, Marion, and even though I toyed with the idea of becoming a foreign correspondent, we just decided to stay here and raise a family.”

The couple has one daughter, Grace, who is 14 years old.

While his main focus is the paper, Rex has a second love – music.

“I studied voice at Trinity under John Seagle and Rosalind Phillips, both in the department of music.  She was a marvelous soprano and had quite an impact on me musically.  Then, there was Claude Zetty, also in the department of music.  He was the choir director.  I loved my involvement with the music faculty.”

Now, Rex is a member of the Albany Pro Musica ensemble and says it’s a wonderful way to escape the pressure of the newsroom.

“My music really enhances my ability to be a good journalist. I tell people that that’s one great advantage of a liberal arts background.  It’s important to have a broad range and the best journalists are people who are able to see beyond what’s in their notebook and understand the broader world around them.”

Rex has great memories of Trinity and so many things about his time there make him smile – riding around in his ’66 Thunderbird in the Hill Country with his friends, wearing his Crystal Pistol T-shirt – even spending time as a waiter at Kangaroo Court on the Riverwalk. 

Rex is proud to be the co-founder of TUVAC.  He thought up the acronym and still has the original brochure the founders created.  He also was student government president junior year, freshman class president, and the San Antonio coordinator for presidential hopeful George McGovern in 1972.  He remembers journalism teacher David Burkett, department of communication, as a “remarkable fellow” and cites Tucker Gibson, department of political science and William Walker of religion, as among his favorites. 

“I had a wonderful experience at Trinity and it really helped make me the person that I am today.”

You may contact Rex at rsmith@timesunion.com.