Charles A. Smithgall Jr. graduated from Georgia Tech, GS 1933, in just three and a half years. During his time on campus, Mr. Smithgall was a member of Phi Sigma Theta and ANAK. He was also an editor of the T-Book and manager of the baseball team. His career success began in radio--he considers himself the nation's oldest disc jockey--starting WGGA-AM in Gainesville in 1941 and then buying WRNG in Atlanta. He also owned a string of weekly newspapers and half-interest in the Gwinnett Daily News, which he sold to the New York Times in 1987.
In 1988, Mr. Smithgall and wife, Lessie Smithgall, gave an anonymous $3 million dollar gift to name the new Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts after the former Atlanta mayor and life-long friend of Mr. Smithgall. In 1994, Smithgall made the largest gift ever to the state of Georgia, selling a huge nature preserve in North Georgia for half its value, with the stipulation that it be maintained under oversight by the Nature Conservancy of Georgia in its pristine state. Smithgall himself had replaced thousands of hardwoods in the forest that was decimated by logging. In 2007, Mr. and Mrs. Smithgall were awarded the Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Progress and Service. He donated to the Roll Call for more than 40 consecutive years.
- 2007- Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Progress and Service
- Mr. and Mrs. Smithgall have given over $20 million in property and money to Georgia Tech, Atlanta, and the State of Georgia.