StoryCorps 417: Remembering Wil Smith

In this special episode, we’re remembering StoryCorps participant Wil Smith, who recorded two interviews with his daughter, Olivia.

Wil was 27 when he enrolled as a freshman at Bowdoin College in Maine in 1996, after serving in the Navy. But his age wasn’t the only thing that set him apart from his classmates — Wil arrived with his infant daughter, Olivia, in tow.


Just before recording their first interview, Wil was diagnosed with colon cancer. He and Olivia returned for a second conversation to talk about his treatment, and the role she played in caring for him.

Wil died on February 22, 2015, at the age of 46.

Episode released March 6, 2015.

Wil and Olivia on Wil’s graduation day. Courtesy of the Smith Family.

Eyes on the Stars

On January 28, 1986, NASA Challenger mission STS-51-L ended in tragedy when the shuttle exploded 73 seconds after takeoff. On board was physicist Ronald E. McNair, who was the second African American to enter space. But first, he was a kid with big dreams in Lake City, South Carolina.

Para subtítulos en español, haga click en el ícono de YouTube en la esquina derecha, y escoja “Spanish” bajo la opción de “settings” y “subtitles/CC.”

Judge Berryl Anderson and her mother, Virginia

Judge Berryl Anderson and her mother, Virginia Anderson, came to StoryCorps in Atlanta to talk about what Berryl was like as a child. As it turns out she was the family troublemaker.

The day they recorded their conversation, Berryl was sworn in as the Chief Magistrate Judge in DeKalb County, Georgia.

Originally aired September 17, 2010 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Ezra Awumey and Sam Harmon

Ezra Awumey, 12, interviews his grandfather Sam Harmon, 75, about the saddest moment in his life. Sam recalls a day during his time in the Navy when a tour of the nation’s capital ended with a belittling reminder of the segregated country he was serving.

Following his time in the Navy, Sam went on to work as an engineer and scientist.

Originally aired on May 27, 2005, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

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Each week, the StoryCorps podcast shares these unscripted conversations, revealing the wisdom, courage, and poetry in the words of people you might not notice walking down the street.