Editor’s note: Alfred E. Smith IV, who resided in New Canaan, died Nov. 20 at age 68.

Alfred (Al) E. Smith IV’s great-grandfather, former governor of New York, once said “The American people never carry an umbrella. They prepare to walk in eternal sunshine.” As we remember Al, it’s this sense of optimism shared with his great-grandfather that leaves behind his greatest legacy — optimism for the missions of many organizations he generously served and supported, optimism for democracy and public service, and optimism that we may all find laughter in life. Our own Stamford Health was the benefactor of Al’s optimism. Through his Hackers for Hope Foundation, Al generously donated funding to the Bennett Cancer Center Clinical Trials and Research Program and he also served on the Stamford Health Foundation Executive Committee and Healing Reimagined Capital Campaign Cabinet.

Al, of course, was most well-known for his ability to embrace humor in all things. He was infamous for poking fun at elected officials and presidential hopefuls as Master of Ceremonies at the annual Al Smith Dinner for 35 years. He presided over the event with grace, and his unmatched wit was welcomed into the homes of millions of American viewers. While his professional and philanthropic pursuits were full of gravitas, he approached them with a warmth indicative of his beloved nature.

We extend our heartfelt sympathy to Nan Smith and her family. We are honored to have known Al, and he will be missed by all who knew him. He had a remarkable vision and his generosity will help us care for families for generations to come. But Al’s commitment to helping others, and optimism in doing so, extended far beyond Stamford Health — for that we can all be grateful.

Kathleen Silard, Stamford Health president & CEO

Dr Mark DeWaele, Stamford Health chair, Board of Directors

Andrew M. Merrill , Stamford Hospital Foundation chair, Board of Directors