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Orin C. Smith, who served at various times as Starbucks CFO and CEO, retiring in 2005, and was instrumental in growing the company in partnership with Howard Schultz and Howard Behar, passed away last week at age 75. The cause was pancreatic cancer.

The Seattle Times obit notes that Smith was “known for giving back to his hometown in southwestern Washington”; he “grew up in Chehalis and remained dedicated to it, from donating to the city’s library to gifting $10 million last year to the area’s Student Achievement Initiative.”

At Starbucks, the story says, Smith was “known as an executive who looked out for employees’ well-being.” And Schultz, currently the company’s executive chairman, tells the Times that Smith taught him to “lead and to live with humanity … He made
KC's View:
I reached out to my friend Jim Donald, who succeeded Orin Smith as Starbucks’ CEO in 2005, and he told me that he contacted Smith when he heard of his illness to tell him that he was “a large part of my personal and professional life. I think about the times we got to work together as my most favorite times in all my professional careers.”

High praise, indeed.