A native of Miami, George A. Smathers was an excellent student, debater, and athlete. While at UF, he was president of the student body, captain of the basketball team, president of the debate team, member of the Florida Blue Key, and member of the John Marshall Society of the Phi Delta legal fraternity.George A. Smathers is one of the University of Florida’s outstanding alumni, achieving the highest levels of public service, leadership in his profession, and generous support for his alma mater. Smathers volunteered for the United States Marine Corps during World War II, and served 19 months in the South Pacific, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel.
After a brief career as an Assistant U.S. District Attorney, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives. During his two terms in the House, Smathers was selected one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of America.
In 1950, he was elected to the United States Senate, where he served three terms until his voluntary retirement in 1969. As a United States Senator, George A. Smathers distinguished himself for leadership in the areas of taxations, finance, and foreign affairs. He was known as the “Senator from Latin America.”
A successful attorney and investor, in 1991 he became the largest single benefactor in the history of the University of Florida. On May 1, 1991, the University of Florida Libraries were named the “George A. Smathers Libraries” in his honor.
“The University of Florida was the basis of my achievements and the foundation of my lasting friendships.” — George A. Smathers