In Memory of




Obituary for Rodney Keith Smith


On Sunday July 26, 2020, at the age of 69, Rodney Keith Smith peacefully passed away sur-rounded (virtually) by his immediate family after a valiant 8-year battle with cancer.

Rod was born May 10, 1951 to Willis and Georgi Ana Smith in Bishop, California, where he spent much of his youth fishing and hiking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Due to his vora-cious work ethic and love of learning, Rod graduated top of his high-school class and played basketball at the University of California, Irvine. After graduating from law school at Brigham Young University, he practiced law with his father in Bishop for four years, which time he al-ways cherished.

After a profound personal experience, Rod understood his life’s professional work was to be fo-cused on legal scholarship and teaching. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with advanced law degrees, Rod began his career in academia, where he taught at numerous law schools before becoming the dean of various law schools, including Capital University (Ohio), the University of Montana, and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Rod’s academ-ic and administrative background prepared him to become the President of Southern Virginia University (SVU), which were some of the best, most challenging years of his life. He loved SVU, its students, and those who taught and supported the students. After chairing the Sports Law and Business program at Arizona State, the final chapter in Rod’s professional journey led him to Utah Valley University, where he served as the Director for the Center for Constitutional Studies. Rod knew the United States Constitution, which established religious freedom and the right of conscience, was one of God’s greatest gifts to His children. Rod authored 6 books, more than 30 academic articles, and was a consistent contributor to USA Today, the Deseret News, and Meridian Magazine on the topic on religious liberty, conscience, and the United States Constitution.

Second only to his personal relationship with Jesus Christ, Rod’s family was most important to him. Rod often shared that the two most important decisions of his life were joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and marrying Danielle Renee Reget. During their 45-year marriage, Rod and Danielle were blessed with 8 children, 8 in-laws (who they viewed as their own), and 28 grandchildren, all while also serving in various leadership roles at church. The world is a much better place because of Rod, his life’s work, and his consistent example that ‘perfect love casteth out all fear’.

Rod is preceded in death by his father, Willis, and his mother, Georgi Ana. He is survived by his wife Danielle and their 8 children, Will (Maryn), Hyrum (Melissa), Mary (Aaron), Heber (Mandy), Lacey (Ryan), Rod Jr (Jamie), Georgi Ana (Steven) and Charlie (Brittany), along with 28 grand- children, and his brother Fredrick and sister Cyndi (Dennis) Hoersting. His funeral service will be held at Nelson Mortuary in Provo Utah on Saturday August 1st, 2020 at 2pm MDT. Extended family and friends are invited to attend virtually. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in his name to Southern Virginia University or Utah Valley University’s Center for Constitutional Studies.

Southern Virginia Donations

Utah Valley Donations