On Nov. 28, 2018, when daybreak was preparing to be born, my father, Harry Leslie Smith, died in my arms at the age of 95, in an ICU hospital ward after battling sepsis and pneumonia for a week.
The “world’s oldest rebel” who had dedicated his last decade of life to warning the younger generation to not make his past our future by blindly accepting austerity, the politics of hate and the creep of fascism was no more.
In the last years of his life, Harry, with me acting as his caregiver, son and comrade in arms, traveled across Canada, Britain and Europe to make a last stand to defend the principles of a just civilization where all citizens have the right to public health care, affordable housing, education, proper wages and to be protected when made vulnerable by the cruel hand of fate.
It was not an easy road Harry chose to take at the end of his life. In fact, he would have been much more comfortably off had he just spent his golden years in the pursuit of his own pleasures and comfort.
But Harry Leslie Smith believed in service to society which is why he wrote 5 books in the last 8 years of his life and was writing his 6th on the refugee crisis when he died.
As his son and the person who was closest to him, I know his health would have been much better had he chose to take a backseat to the calamities of our time. He couldn’t though. So, despite pulmonary fibrosis, COPD and congestive heart failure, Harry Leslie Smith raged against the dying of the light through his books, tours, speeches, interviews and podcasts, while I acted as his faithful caregiver, best friend, partner and political collaborator.
Neither he nor I regretted our decision in 2010 to unravel the tragedies of his generation’s youth during the Great Depression. But it did come at great personal cost to both of us because he drove all of his income from his books and our savings into making Harry's Last Stand a movement to inspire others.
So, after his death, I have been drying to settle our debts and write the definitive book about the last ten years of Harry's Life as well as continue his refugee advocacy work around the world. Within the next 15 months i want to establish a foundation in his name to promote his legacy but I can't do that without your support.
My dad Harry Leslie Smith on why he devoted the last years of his life to the refugee crisis.