Gordon Smith

Photo courtesy of Adventist Heritage Centre, Australia.

Smith, Gordon (1884–1983) and Mary Ann Maud (Cammell) (1878–1929); later Vera Constance (Aldred) (1911–2008)

By Milton Hook

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Milton Hook, Ed.D. (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, the United States). Hook retired in 1997 as a minister in the Greater Sydney Conference, Australia. An Australian by birth Hook has served the Church as a teacher at the elementary, academy and college levels, a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and as a local church pastor. In retirement he is a conjoint senior lecturer at Avondale College of Higher Education. He has authored Flames Over Battle Creek, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora, Desmond Ford: Reformist Theologian, Gospel Revivalist, the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series, and many magazine articles. He is married to Noeleen and has two sons and three grandchildren.

Gordon and Maud Smith were pioneer medical missionaries in the South Pacific, Australia, and New Zealand. Several years after Maud died, Gordon married Vera Constance Aldred. Together they taught schools and worked with the Maori.

Early Life

Gordon Smith was born on June 22, 1884, at Waipawa in the north island of New Zealand. According to his birth certificate, his mother was Pamala Parker but no father’s name is recorded.1 Smith was his grandmother’s married name. Gordon had a younger sister who was given the names Marion Millionaire (b.1892).2 As a teenager Gordon trained in hydrotherapy treatments at the Christchurch Sanitarium.3 He then sailed to Australia, where he was accepted to work as a nurse in the Sydney Sanitarium in September 1905.4

Mission Service

Working at the sanitarium placed him under notice as a candidate for mission service. At the sixth biennial session of the Australasian Union Conference, 1906, Smith was appointed to join the missionary team in Fiji and issued with a missionary license.5 He sailed to Fiji via New Zealand, arriving on January 13, 1907.6 A few days after arrival he was helping to row a group across Suva Harbor when a sudden storm overtook them, the wild surf snapping his oar and almost swamping their boat. Soon after that incident he found himself in a small party rowing for four days against tidal currents to reach Buresala Training School on Ovalau Island.7 He began to learn some of the Fijian language and was given charge of the small printshop at the school. He also assisted with some of the teaching.8 At the annual Fiji Mission Council, June 1908, he was elected to be a member of the publishing board and also secretary of the Buresala Training School.9

Gordon Smith remained in Fiji for two years and then returned to the Sydney Sanitarium to complete his nurse’s training. He was awarded his diploma at the graduation service, September 20, 1909.10

Having completed his training, Gordon married Mary Ann Maud Cammell on November 1, 1909, in the home of Drs. Franklin and Eulalia Richards, Wahroonga, NSW. John Fulton performed the ceremony.11 Maud was six years older than Gordon, born in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1878.12 She had worked in the Sydney Vegetarian Café and then transferred to the Culinary Department of the Sydney Sanitarium. She also did some nurse’s training, but there is no record of her completing the course.13

A few days after their wedding they sailed on the Van Spilbergen, bound for Port Moresby, Papua.14 They were to assist Septimus Carr in pioneering a mission base at Bisiatabu, inland from Port Moresby. They had worked together in Fiji. The work was chiefly manual labor, building with local materials and managing a team of Papuan men to produce bananas, pineapples, maize, and yams. Bush wallabies were hunted as a meat supply. Plans were laid to open an elementary school in 1912.15 For some unknown reason their mission term was cut short and they returned to Australia.

Australia and New Zealand

Gordon and Maud tried to establish their own hydrotherapy treatment rooms in Sydney in 1911, but the attempt was short-lived.16 Then they moved north to Queensland, where Gordon made a second attempt to gain a clientele while Maud worked as matron in the Sanitarium Health Food Company café, Brisbane. Later they returned to New Zealand and did self-supporting work teaching the Maoris. In 1929 Maud became seriously ill and had surgery, but died in Auckland on November 16. She was buried in the Purewa Anglican Cemetery, leaving Gordon and a daughter, Rona Marion Smith, to mourn.17

In 1937 Gordon married Vera Constance Aldred.18 Together they taught school and cared for the sick in the Northland region, where there was a high density of Maoris. Finally they transferred south to Auckland and taught in private schools. Gordon died in the Auckland Hospital on April 13, 1983, age 98, and was buried in the North Shore Lawn Cemetery. His daughter had predeceased him.19 Vera passed away at Victoria Point Adventist Nursing Home, Queensland, on January 7, 2008.20

Sources

Battye, W[alter] E. “Maud (Cammell) Smith.” Australasian Record, February 3, 1930.

“Birth, Death and Marriage Historical Records-dia.govt.nz.” New Zealand government. Retrieved from https://www.bdmhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz/Search/Search?Path=querySubmit.m%3fReportName%3dmarriageSearch%26recordsPP%3d30#SearchResults.

Brownie, E[dward] J. “Gordon Smith.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, May 28, 1983.

Carr, S[eptimus] W. and E[dith] M. Carr. “Fiji.” Union Conference Record, February 25, 1907.

“Distribution of Labor.” Union Conference Record, October 1, 1906.

District of Hawke’s Bay. Birth Certificates. Government of New Zealand Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Wellington, New Zealand.

“Gordon Smith.” Ancestry.com. 2020. Retrieved from https://www.ancestry.com.au/family-tree/person/tree/164494756/person/122137851779/facts.

Hospital Board minutes. Sydney Adventist Hospital Archives, Wahroonga, NSW. Shelf Records. Folder: “Hospital Board Minutes.” Document: “Hospital Board Minutes.”

“Mary Ann Maud Cammell.” FamilySearch.org. Retrieved from https://www.familysearch.org/tree/find/name?search=1&gender=female&birth=new%20zealand|1878|0&self=mary%20ann&20maud|cammell|0|0

“On the afternoon of November 1 . . .” Union Conference Record, November 15, 1909.

Parker, C[alvin] H. “Fiji.” Union Conference Record, March 23, 1908.

———. “The Fijian Council.” Union Conference Record, August 3, 1908.

Semmens, Emma. “A Pleasant Evening at the Sanitarium.” Union Conference Record, October 11, 1909.

Smith, Gordon. “First Experiences in Fiji.” Union Conference Record, May 6, 1907.

Smith, G[ordon], and M[aud] Smith. “New Guinea.” Australasian Record, January 16, 1911.

“The Sanitarium Health Food Company . . .” Australasian Record, July 3, 1911.

Tyler, Neil and Gordon Gilbert. “Vera Constance (Aldred) Smith.” Record, February 16, 2008.

Notes

  1. District of Hawke’s Bay, Birth Certificate no. 5056 (1884) Government of New Zealand Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Wellington, New Zealand.

  2. “Gordon Smith,” Ancestry.com. 2020, accessed December 14, 2020, https://www.ancestry.com.au/family-tree/person/tree/164494756/person/122137851779/facts.

  3. E[dward] J. Brownie, “Gordon Smith,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, May 28, 1983, 15.

  4. Hospital Board minutes, September 28, 1905. Sydney Adventist Hospital Archives, Wahroonga, NSW (Shelf Records. Folder: “Hospital Board Minutes”; Document: “Hospital Board Minutes”).

  5. “Distribution of Labor,” Union Conference Record, October 1, 1906, 67.

  6. S[eptimus] W. and E[dith] M. Carr, “Fiji,” Union Conference Record, February 25, 1907, 3.

  7. Gordon Smith, “First Experiences in Fiji,” Union Conference Record, May 6, 1907, 4.

  8. C[alvin] H. Parker, “Fiji,” Union Conference Record, March 23, 1908, 4.

  9. C[alvin] H. Parker, “The Fijian Council,” Union Conference Record, August 3, 1908, 2, 3.

  10. Emma Semmens, “A Pleasant Evening at the Sanitarium,” Union Conference Record, October 11, 1909, 3, 4.

  11. “On the afternoon of November 1 . . . ,” Union Conference Record, November 15, 1909, 8.

  12. “Mary Ann Maud Cammell,” FamilySearch.org, accessed February 20, 2019, https://www.familysearch.org/tree/find/name?search=1&gender=female&birth=new%20zealand|1878|0&self=mary%20ann%20maud|0|0.

  13. W[alter] E. Battye, “Maud (Cammell) Smith,” Australasian Record, February 3, 1930, 7.

  14. “On the afternoon of November 1 . . . .”.

  15. G[ordon] and M[aud] Smith, “New Guinea,” Australasian Record, January 16, 1911, 3.

  16. “The Sanitarium Health Food Company . . . ,” Australasian Record, July 3, 1911, 8.

  17. Battye, 7.

  18. “Birth, Death and Marriage Historical Records-dia.govt.nz,” New Zealand government, accessed February 20, 2019, https://www.bdmhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz/Search/Search?Path=querySubmit.m%3fReportName%3dMarriageSearch%26recordsPP%3d30#SearchResults.

  19. Brownie, 15.

  20. Neil Tyler and Gordon Gilbert, “Vera Constance (Aldred) Smith,” Record, January 7, 2008, 14.

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Hook, Milton. "Smith, Gordon (1884–1983) and Mary Ann Maud (Cammell) (1878–1929); later Vera Constance (Aldred) (1911–2008)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 10, 2021. Accessed January 28, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=A850.

Hook, Milton. "Smith, Gordon (1884–1983) and Mary Ann Maud (Cammell) (1878–1929); later Vera Constance (Aldred) (1911–2008)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 10, 2021. Date of access January 28, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=A850.

Hook, Milton (2021, January 10). Smith, Gordon (1884–1983) and Mary Ann Maud (Cammell) (1878–1929); later Vera Constance (Aldred) (1911–2008). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved January 28, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=A850.