Gary Smith

Traveling Networker Extraordinaire
1944  - 1998
R. Gary Smith, New Age Networker
"Winged Mercury"

The transition of R. Gary Smith, in September, 1998, leaves a void in the new age networking community. Gary networked  from the back of  his van without the help of a computer. He traveled from state to state like a "medieval troubadour,"  to use his own descriptive term, bringing news of the outside world. His interests were eclectic and his information was always current and insightful.

Gary was the first networker I ever met who networked outside of his local community. Until then, I felt alone doing this networking I was driven to do. His passion for networking matched mine and made us instant friends. We were kindred spirits, excitedly sharing new information every time he stopped in Gainesville, Florida.

We met in the early 1980s when most of us didn't even have computers and communication was not instantaneous. Gary always amazed me when he phoned me soon after he arrived in town. He would tell me about all the events that were happening in my own city, events that I hadn't even heard of.

My husband and I will always remember the whirlwind tour of New Age Asheville that Gary gave us a few years ago when we visited him there. He took us to places we never would have found on our own.

We'll miss you, Gary.

Patti Normandy Greenwood


Click here for more pictures of Gary.

This column first appeared in The News, a Lynchburg, Virginia, publication, on Friday, January 4, 1985. It captures some of the essence of our friend, Gary.

Gary Smith
A pilgrim looks for missing links

 by Darrell Laurant

    There is a part of me, however small, that is very envious of Gary Smith and his lifestyle.

    "What is it you do, exactly?" I asked him recently.

    "That's a little difficult to explain," Smith replied. "Basically, I'm a traveling resource connector, seeking out empowering cooperative ideas that enhance the positive quality of life."

    "I travel around in my van, looking into things that interest me."

    Oh. In other words, Gary Smith is a pilgrim.  It may not pay very well, but you don't have a clock to punch.

    And don't try calling Smith at his office - he doesn't have one.  In fact, he doesn't even have an address.  That's why I envy him.

    What Smith does have is a newsletter - the "Winged Mercury Missive," published with a Lynchburg dateline.

    "I grew up in Lynchburg," Smith explained, "and my mother still lives here - so she gets all  my mail."

    When I first met Gary Smith, I pegged him as '60s revisited.  At 40, he's about the right age, and his attire - a denim vest, jeans and a jaunty cap - would have been quite appropriate in 1969.

    But no.  This was not "The Big Chill," and Smith Is not some lost hippie waiting in vain for the next Woodstock.

    "Actually, I wasn't into the '60s thing at all," he said.  "I went to Virginia Tech for three years, dropped out and joined the Army.  At the time, it seemed like the natural thing to do.

    "The Army sent me to Vietnam, but I don't have any weird stories to tell.  I was in the rear, at Cam Ranh Bay, repairing radios."

    Nevertheless, Vietnam was the beginning of a new man - Gary Smith, Aquarian networker.

    "When I'd get an R&R." he recalled, "I'd use it to visit places like Japan and Australia - my first experience with Eastern culture.  In Japan, for instance, they had this huge hollow Buddha with steps going up on the inside."

    But these encounters did not keep Gary Smith from returning to Virginia - and a job with General Electric.

    "Later," he continued, "I went to work for a television station in Richmond.  I was a trouble-shooter for their equipment, which meant that I had a lot of time on my hands.  So I started reading everything I could find - science fiction, religion, philosophy."

    During this period, Smith had a chance encounter with a man doing yard work at his apartment complex.

    "It turned out that he was a member of the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa.  I was curious about it, and we became friends."

    Then, in 1980, Smith reached what he calls "a key point In my life."

    "I went to a Rainbow Gathering (an "alternative culture" convention) in West Virginia, just to see what it was all about.  You had every kind of person imaginable - from the lowliest hobo looking to cop a meal to writers and artists and the vibes were incredible.  Someone would come by and say 'I need volunteers to dig latrines' and 100 hands would go up.  We built an instant city, and everyone got along.  It changed me."

    And now Smith is out to change society - or at least influence it. Living as frugally as possible, he saved most of his salary for three years, invested it wisely, and bought a used van with 24,000 miles under its belts.  Then, in June of 1981, he painted the van silver and pointed it west.

    "What I'm trying to do now," he said.  "is tie In all the different alternative philosophies I encounter.  I see myself as something like the medieval troubadours, who come into a community with news of the outside world - In this case, news you can't get from the media."

    From Smith's perspective, the media is into" politics, crime in the streets and natural disasters.  Gary Smith is into psychic phenomena. mysticism, story-telling, holistic health and  global cooperation, subjects generally not covered on the 6 o'clock news.

    The rear of his van is crammed with books, tapes and notebooks, leaving just enough room for a bed.

    "So many ideas for alternative lifestyles  are existing in a vacuum," he said.
"By forming networks, maybe we can change that. Some folks, mostly out west, are doing it with computers.  I'm trying to do it with my newsletter."

    In the latest issue of the "Winged Mercury Missive" is this quote from Lao-Tse
        "The further one travels, the less one knows.  The Sage arrives without traveling."

   Maybe.  But Lao-Tse didn't own a van.

From Barbara (Bono) Kaye:

I met Gary in the early 1980's in Richmond, VA. It was early in his journey
and he was still learning his craft. It was shortly after he had left G.E. We
met through music friends. Well, of course! The universal communicator would
be actively interested in the universal language!

Through the years I have always looked forward to his infrequent visits -
feeling honored that he would occasionally sleep on my couch and eat from my
refrigerator. Not since Sts. Francis of Assisi and Dominic has there been a
messenger of such calibre. Once every 500 years is not enough - but what is
time to God?

He danced at my wedding; dandled my son on his knee; cried with me when
times were tough; laughed with me when times were good. Always there -
always here - always in touch with people from exotic places and with the
next door neighbors - always off to another adventure - always back to share
his tales.

And now he's been called back - I guess to relate his tales to those in the
other world - but I have a hunch, networker that he is, he'll be back.
Somehow, he'll be back.

Barbara (Bono) Kaye

From Lonnie Lockett:

As a child, I looked forward each year to the arrival of Christmas. Like many children, I was anxious to see what Santa would bring as he made his annual journey. At each stop, he would leave behind a gift to be enjoyed by those he visited. A generous and unselfish act by this Santa who gave freely without asking for anything in return.

This Santa was, of course, a fantasy. About fifteen years ago, I was fortunate enough to meet the real Santa, in the person of Gary Smith, also known as "Mercury, the Winged Messenger."

Gary traveled the country in a van, stopping along the way to deliver gifts. Packed into his van was information on a wide array of subject matter. From UFOs to conspiracy theories to information on cutting edge technologies, there was something for almost everyone. Gary was eager to share any and all of the many volumes of books, magazines, pamphlets, photo-copied articles and videotapes he carried with him. So eager to share so much, he left very little room in his van for his personal comfort. Most of the time, the van was his home.

Although he had a home in North Carolina and a mother he was very close to, Gary chose to deliver gifts of information to many throughout the years of his service to humankind. I would like here to thank his mother for sharing Gary with us. How generous of her.

Over the years, Gary visited my town many times. I always looked forward to his arrival. There was usually some new and interesting information along with a surprise or two concerning some exotic topic. I would spend hours rifling through all the "stuff" he brought with him, and like the Santa of my childhood, Gary's eyes would twinkle with delight each time I found something of interest.

Gary also shared information verbally. Well-informed and articulate, he would entertain me with stories about his travels and the interesting people he met along the way. He was my friend.

Gary died recently.

I wonder how many people out there received gifts from Gary during his travels. I truly believe that the greatest gift he left behind was a little bit of himself.

God speed, Gary. You will be missed.

Lonnie Lockett,
High Springs, Florida
September 23, 1998

From Woody White:

I lost a great friend in Gary.  The world also lost a great friend.   We first met in 1960.  The times were interesting, the Soviets having recently launched sputnik, setting-off the space race.  It was at the first meeting of S.O.L.A.R. (Society of Lynchburg Amateur Rocketeers).  We didn't build "toy" rockets, but multi-stage systems made from aluminum, up to 12' long and 2-3" diameter.  Gary and I built the launch site blockhouse from railroad ties one Saturday when no one else showed-up.   You could count on Gary.

After leaving school, Gary's and my paths diverged but we remained best friends.  I became somewhat of a "teckkie", practical type and Gary's interest in people and possibilities matured into his networking.  Several times a year, I could count on hearing from him when he sailed through the backwaters of Lynchburg.  I always looked forward to him telling me he was "doing better and better!" and hearing about his travels and discoveries.  I felt we made a great complementary pair.  Gary supplied new ideas and theories and I would speak to the practical or proven attributes.    Great talk.

I found, like Patti, that when he came to visit, he would tell me about all sorts of things happening in the area (keep in mind all is relative - I live near Lynchburg).  Most was news to me.  He had been in town for a day or two and I lived there!

Losing Gary from my life will leave a huge void.  No more visits from the Winged Mercury Messenger: Gary.

Woody White

From Willard Van De Bogart:

Gary and I networked for over 28 years. We met in New York (Eden) at Dan Winter's farm house on Sandrock road, and in Pittsburgh.

Gary was one of the original networkers for consciousness expansion and all environmental and ecological issues. His passing will remove an important gatekeeper to many kinds of relevant information to help us all in our journey to bring about peace and a greater understanding of the universe.

Before there was ever an internet, Gary was sending packets of information to anyone who needed an update or a contact to information difficult to obtain. His traveling Van was a
universe unto itself. I am sorry to hear of his passing.

He was truly a great networker. Any of us who were in league with his style of information sharing cannot help be tinged by his technique, and in truth,  we are in his constant debt and we do carry his memory as devoted networkers as evident by all our participation on the internet.

I  am certain Gary is networking with the angels in preparation for our ascension.

Willard Van De Bogart
Webmaster Earth Portals

From the Gary Smith Memorial Issue
of TouchStone, a Gainesville, Florida, publication
Sept. 26 - Oct. 26, 1998
Douglas E. Davis, Projects Manager

In Memorium    Gary Smith 1944-1998

It saddens us greatly here at TouchStone to announce the untimely passing of person extra-ordinaire, Gary Smith. We considered Gary to be one of the most important people of this new age, (the information and love age), if not the whole planet. His tireless journey, literally from town to town, state to state and, ironically, country to country, was consumed with spreading his good talents, his smile and such selfless service to others, as often as needed.

He was the guy in the background, folding tables, running the video camera, taking tickets while others, of more glamour, were on stage. But those very people of glamour never visited us; Gary did.

He joyfully brought all the news, the tear-sheets on the latest technology and current developments, no matter how obscure. The planet needed Gary. He suffered a heart attack while in Montreal. We fear there is no one to replace him.

Remember, one person can make a difference.

"All my children are loved.
And of those who give, they are my Blessed.
But those who give and give,
expecting nothing,
are my choicest creation!"

From Gary's cousin, Denise:

I was told of this memorial page for my cousin, Gary Smith, and just wanted to thank all who sent in tributes to Gary.  While we only saw Gary yearly, we looked forward to his visits to Avon Park around Christmas time every year.

Gary never went into detail with us about exactly what it was he did, except to say that he travelled around the country, meeting all kinds of new and interesting people, learning about the world and spreading the knowledge he had.

We are a practical, down to earth family and perhaps he didn't think we would understand his enthusiasm for consciousness expansion.   While we knew Gary was an extremely intelligent person, we sort of viewed him as "`eccentric,'' if you will.  After all, how many people simply travel, have no home, and their sole purpose in life is learning and talking to people?

Reading the memorials sent in for Gary makes us all realize that even though he was very special to us, we had no clue just how important he was to the world.  We couldn't be more proud of him and I'm sure your web-site is of great comfort to his mother, Jean.   Thank you.

October 20, 1998

This picture of Gary and his famous van was submitted by his friend, Daniel Lyman.
Daniel is now the keeper of Gary's "Just Say Know" button pictured above.

From Steve Fishman:

Stickers, decals and  flyers plastered this silver road van.  A picture of Bob Dobbs (the church of the subgenius)  filled the window of the side door and bumper stickers abounded.
He would park it under the tree on the Oregon Hill, side street adjacent to my house, find the secret door key and climb the steps to my second story Richmond flat. As I arrived home,  I'd recognize the van and hear Gary splashing around having a bath after his road trip from wherever to Virginia.

We could spend many hours talking about issues, philosophy, artmaking, science and occult
issues.  I enjoyed them most when they revealed things about the ways we feel, learn, think and see in the present. These discussions would just pick themselves up again  where we had left them six months earlier, as if we had just paused for a cosmic second. We would discuss these and oftentimes disagree on how and if  these issues or discoveries played
toward our personal happiness and fulfillment.

I always enjoyed these talks although I never  quite shared Gary's enthusiasm for what he called Networking.  I'd question  how and If  this  was fulfilling  him, his happiness, and his want for connection.

One ironic question I posed was, "If  You don't stay in any one place long enough and become a participant in a community, then how can you successfully create deeper connections?"

We had a 20+year history and I felt like we knew each other  well enough to ask personal, (behavioral) and happiness questions. Though we never got to agree on that one,  and I suppose it would still have been one of our continuing discussions.  I'll humbly continue to ponder this one myself for a long time to come.

Still his resources were bountiful. Writing in that little notebook of his in the tiniest of
print, he'd make obsessive notes or pull out a address or name of someone he'd networked with. Sometimes when he would reach for the notebook, I would know that we were about to go somewhere else, (to network land) and sometimes away from the content of what we had been talking about.

If it was important, I'd sometimes make a mental note to return to the subject later.  Some we never did return to.  I already miss that.
PS. Gary would always bring a box of the cheapest, sometimes even long past date, bad ginger snaps, to my house as an offering. I now have a new appreciation for them. I loved that guy!

At Gary's funeral, his mom had put together an album of pictures. I saw a  group photo taken at Mulberry House in Richmond in the early seventies.  On the back of the photo was a map with numbers and shapes on it and a corresponding numbered listing of who the  parties were in the photo.  I'm not sure I knew many folks in that photo, but if any of you reading this might know or remember that time, it might be interesting to note that here.

Steve Fishman

From Pam McMahon:

I've waited a long time to write this....1998 was a year full of passings of loved ones...I keep thinking that I have to get better at this..the letting go...I sure am getting a lot of practice lately...

It is August 99...almost a year now...the tomatoes are ripe and prolific and for the first time in 17 years we have managed to grow some awesome cantaloupes...Gary would have really loved it...He truly enjoyed coming
and sharing lots of home cooking ..I know the road food gets old...spent some time there myself....I loved feeding him...he made it worth my while in so many ways...and he always washed the dishes...

Our home was a regular pit stop for Gary..We have ll acres in the Western North Carolina foothills...He cried when we played music and we often laughed til we cried and we shared our planetary frustrations and our faith in Divine Order...

He was and is still my Spirit Brother and I will hold him forever in my heart of hearts....he truly was an Exceptional Human Being...I sure am thankful he spent some time in my life!

Pam McMahon

From Brian Hill, Sarasota, Floria

Of course sadness fills me when I think of Gary Smith's passing but it is joy and admiration that fills me when I think of Gary's Smith's life. I celebrate the day of his birth, May 29, 1944 and give thanks for all the gifts that he has given us.

It is true The Winged Messenger gave us an abundance of information; as many have said he was the ultimate networker. He was the precursor to the electronic age and the internet. However, if we look deeper, Gary gave us so much more than information. Gary gave us a model of how to be true to our higher self. Gary came to this earth and lived his calling. He lived his mission. As an astrologer, I spent many hours with Gary perusing the energies of his birth chart and I can sincerely say with the strongest  conviction Gary Smith was truly a most successful man. His being and his doing were truly one.

Gary Smith was a minister of spiritual oneness. Succinctly, Gary understood we are all one and through his information he simply tried to give us, ourselves. He did this by connecting us all to each other; something he is still doing now. Yes, we all understand that Gary was a messenger but it was his message that was his essence.

When Gary came to town, I knew that it was important to not only take time to listen to his news but to sense and feel the consciousness of us all. For within Gary Smith lived every one of us and if we are fortunate within each of us lives Gary Smith.

Brian Hill

From Joshua Shapiro

I met Gary Smith back in 1980 in my early networking days when he and I were like brothers, both traveling
a bit on faith and collecting and sharing information. Gary even helped us when I was working on my first
book, Journeys of an Aquarian Age Networker.

There are very few people on the planet who get to live what makes their heart sing and also at the same
time really being a fine example of an individual into offering what service or help he could give.

Gary we miss you but I hope you are looking over our shoulders from spirit because the world and peace
you envisioned and help to create is definitely going to happen in the not too distant future.

It's too bad Gary didn't write his story ... he was too busy sharing all the important stuff others were doing
... now that would be a story.

God Bless

Joshua Shapiro
author of Journeys of an Aquarian Age Networker
V J Enterprises
Crystal Skull Explorer

From Anne Sermons Gillis:

I  met Gary in the late 80's. At the time I ran a spiritual Center in Memphis called Connection.  Gary came to one service or maybe two. He shared his plethora of material with our community along with his newsletter. Today I received an e-mail from a Connection member with a link to the directory. When I saw the link to Gary I was saddened. It is really a miracle that I remember him. Thousands of people came through the center through the years and it was easy to forget ones who passed through only once, but something always stuck with me about Gary. I also was doing a lot of networking at the time and loved the excitement and mystery created in the process of spiritual linking.

Blessings to you, my brother Gary. May your new form be supplied with an abundance of all things necessary to continue your journey through new vistas of light and life.

Anne Sermons Gillis
June 5, 2000


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