Skip to content

In Memoriam ~ Julius Coller Smith ’48

Julius Coller Smith ’48 

Father of Julius ’76, Marc ’77, Justin ’80, Adam ’85 and Jonathan ’88. Julius ’48 was a former Board of Regents member for many years and original Armor of Light recipient.

Julius Coller Smith, 88, passed away at his home in Chaska, MN on September 8, 2018.

Known to family, colleagues and friends as “Jules,” Julius C. Smith was born in Minneapolis on June 2, 1930. He was a lifelong resident of Chaska. What followed was an extraordinary life in law, public service, entrepreneurship — and with his beloved family.

He attended St. John’s Preparatory School in Collegeville, MN, received a BSL degree from the University of Minnesota, and a JD degree from the University of Minnesota Law School. As an undergraduate, he played on the varsity basketball team. After college, he began his private practice of law in Chaska at what became the firm of Odell & Smith. In 1975 he set up his own firm, and continued to practice law until 2006.

His long history of public service began in 1956 when he became chairman of the Carver County Planning Commission. He later served as vice chair and Carver County representative to the Twin Cities Metropolitan Planning Commission. In 1968, he became vice chairman of the first Twin Cities Metropolitan Sewer Board. In 1993, Governor Arne Carlson appointed him as a district representative to the Metropolitan Council. Reappointed several times by subsequent governors, he continued in this post until 2007, providing leadership roles on various Council committees. His tenure was considered the longest of any member, and he was informally known as the “institutional memory” of the Council. From 1961-67, he also served as City Attorney for Chaska.

In the private practice of real estate development law, he had few peers. Enlisted by then State Senator Henry McKnight to assemble the land purchases in Chaska for the historic first Title IV new town of Jonathan in the late 1960s, he accomplished this in time of the new community’s inauguration in 1969. He served as senior vice president and general counsel of the Jonathan Development Corporation until 1974. He also served as vice chairman of the New Communities Development Foundation, the national organization of the Title IV new town communities across the nation. From 1977 to 1996 he was an adjunct professor at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs providing very popular graduate school seminars in private real estate development.

He participated in the creation of a Renaissance Festival in Jonathan in the early 1970s. In 1977, he formed International Renaissance Festivals Ltd., and opened his own festival in Maryland. This festival continues in Annapolis today under the management of his sons. Serving as president between 1977 and 2012, he became chairman of the board of the Annapolis festival in 2012, a position he held until his death.

In 1991, President George H.W. Bush, on the recommendation of U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Jack Kemp, appointed Smith to the Federal Home Loan Bank Board. He was chairman of several of its financial committees, and served until 1997.

In 1989, he co-founded the International Conference Foundation, a non-profit organization which held national symposia on public policy issues, and which hosted public officials and other leaders from around the world in programs of the United States Information Agency and the U.S. Department of State. He served as its president until 2005.

On July 27, 1957, Smith married Mary Ann Dube. They had seven children —Jules, Marc, Justin, Ann (McGlennen), Adam, Jonathan and Stephen (deceased); Jules, Marc, Justin and Adam manage the Renaissance Festival in Annapolis. Ann is a business executive in Minnesota. Jonathan is an attorney in Milwaukee. Mary Smith died in 1989. Smith did not remarry. He is also survived by seven grandchildren — Julius, Hannah, Ivey, Mary, Thomas (McGlennen), Colin (McGlennen) and Emily (McGlennen).

Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Tuesday, September 18, 11 a.m. at St. Victoria Catholic Church, 8228 Victoria Drive, Victoria, MN. Visitation will be on Monday, September 17, 5-8 p.m. at Bertas Funeral Home, 200 W. 3rd Street, Chaska, and also for one hour prior to the Mass at church. Burial will be at the Catholic Cemetery, Shakopee.

In lieu of flowers, the family request that donations be sent to: The Mary Dube Smith Scholarship Fund, St. John’s Preparatory School, P.O. Box 4000, 2280 Watertower Road, Collegeville, MN 56321-4000.