Obituary Detail

Dr. Herbert Charles Smitherman, Sr.
3/23/1937 - 10/9/2010

Herbert Charles Smitherman, Ph.D. 

Herbert Charles Smitherman, Sr. has had a full diverse career doing much of what he dreamed of doing while growing up in the 40’s and 50’s in Birmingham, Alabama.  The only child of a Baptist minister Reverend Otis C. Smitherman and his wife, Alberta, he was destined to go to college and do well even though it was a stretch for his family. He attended Tuskegee Institute and excelled in the area of chemistry, receiving both B.S. and M.S. degrees in chemistry.  He received an officer’s commission in the United States Army before moving on to teach chemistry at Texas Southern University in Houston.  He spent two years in the army between teaching and entering Howard University as a doctoral student.           Dr. Smitherman worked for Procter and Gamble for 29 years.  After retiring, he was employed by Wilberforce University for four years as assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs and professor of chemistry. After Wilberforce, he worked for Cincinnati Public Schools from 2000 to 2009 serving as Principal of Western Hills Design Technology High and Virtual High Schools.  When he passed, he was manager of the office of Innovation for Cincinnati Public Schools. While taking a break, Dr. Smitherman completed all of the OSHA training required to qualify as a safety manager in the general industry and in the construction industry. This training was undertaken so he could consult and assist his son who owns and operates Jostin Construction, Inc. At Procter and Gamble as a research chemist/manager and the first African American hired with a doctorate degree, he put his mark on many familiar products we use today.  In addition, Dr. Smitherman was involved in aggressively recruiting minority undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. science, chemistry and chemical engineering students from schools around the nation.  Many P&G African American chemist and chemical engineers who joined the company during the 70’s and 80’s were hired as a result of that recruitment program.  Dr. Smitherman also established a summer program inviting very capable college students to work at Procter & Gamble to become familiar with the corporate environment. He founded the Black Technical Ph.D. Group at Procter & Gamble. The goal was to advocate for African American scientists and engineers to be paid, promoted and awarded for their contributions. These programs still exist today. Dr. Smitherman helped to establish the National Organization for Black Chemist and Chemical Engineers (NOBCHE). The goal of that organization is to promote professionalism and collaboration among Black engineers and scientists across the United States. Dr. Smitherman was able to get Procter& Gamble to present the first scholarship award through NOBCHE to an aspiring African American Ph.D. candidate. This organization is currently awarding scholarships annually to aspiring Ph.D. chemists and chemical engineers. At the middle school level, Dr. Smitherman was instrumental in establishing a Saturday enrichment program for two Cincinnati inner-city schools.  Scientists and mathematicians from local industries volunteered their time, their skills and caring attitudes to improve the lives of the young people. This pre-dates current mentoring programs. As his five sons and one daughter grew up, Dr. Smitherman was visible throughout his community and he stressed activities which bonded his family.  He served as a Boy Scout Leader, a little league baseball coach, an officer of the Walnut Hills High School Parent Board, a member of the North Avondale Neighborhood Association (NANA) a member of Stepping Stones, and a tutor at several schools. He and his family have been members of Bellarmine Chapel since 1968. Also, he is a member of the NAACP and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. Barbara and Herbert celebrated 51st years of marriage June 3, 2010. 

 Dr. Smitherman is survived by his wife, Barbara, sons – Dr. Herbert C. Smitherman, Jr. (Dr. Lynn), James Otis C. Smitherman, Albert C. Smitherman (Liza), Joseph M. C. Smitherman (Jason), Christopher E. C. Smitherman (Pamela), daughter – Mae Angela Smitherman-Smith (David), 14 grandchildren, brother-in-law – Melvin J. Flowers, Sr., mother-in-law – Mozelle P. Flowers, nephews – Lt. Col. Derreck Flowers (Marcia), Melvin J. Flowers, Jr., niece – Melva Dupree (Cedric), cousins – Rev. Alfred Smith (Corrina), Jessie Mae Gordon, Barbara Ann Echols, Betty Jenkins and the Primus family, extended family members – Rose & Earl Dickerson, Michelle & Timothy Banks, Michelle & Otis Smith, Loraine & Napoleon Dobbins, Jr., William & Mikel Ann Koon & sisters, Pat & Jane Knaley, and a host of friends.

Funeral service 12 noon on Saturday, October 16 at Bellermine Chapel, 3801 Ledgewood Drive (45207).  Visitation 4:00 pm until 8:00 pm on Friday and 11:00 am until hour of service on Saturday.  Arrangements entrusted to Walker Funeral Home.  Share special messages with the Smitherman family at

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Funeral Date:

Funeral Time(s):
Service 12noon Bellarmine Chapel. Visitation on Friday from 4:00pm until 8:00pm and Saturday from 11:00am until 12noon.