Smittcamp was a Kerman native who studied business at Fresno State where he met his wife, Muriel Schmeiser.
They were married four years later and had their first son, Robert, in 1941. Mr. Smittcamp worked as a milkman before he was shipped to the South Pacific to serve in the Marines during World War II. When he returned in 1945, he and his wife bought a 200-acre farm at Minnewawa and Nees avenues in Clovis from her father.
The farm would eventually become Wawona Ranch and grow into an agricultural operation — led by Bob and his brother, Bill — that includes fruit farming, packing, frozen-foods production and food processing.
The operation includes Wawona Orchards, Wawona Frozen Foods, Wawona Package LLC, and Lyons-Magnus Inc.
Smittcamp was appointed by President Richard Nixon to the White House Conference on Food and Nutrition in 1969 and served as chairman of the Federal Farm Credit Board in 1971. He was on the California State Board of Agriculture from 1970 to 1972 and in 1976 was appointed to the U.S. Advisory Committee on Regulatory Programs.
But perhaps one of Mr. Smittcamp’s most valued roles was sitting on the Fresno State foundation board and helping the university grow. Mr. Smittcamp graduated in 1939. He received an honorary doctorate in 1995.
Mr. Smittcamp led the fundraising efforts for Beiden Field baseball stadium and was involved in getting Bulldog Stadium built.
In 1998, he and his wife gave $2 million in land and cash to the university, which launched the Smittcamp Family Honors College and the Smittcamp Alumni House.
Part of that gift was invested by the honors college, and together with other donors has paid the tuition and dorm room fees of 875 graduates — at a price tag of $11,000 a year.more » « less