Craig Smoldt, age 80, passed away August 5 at Methodist Hospital, Rochester, Minnesota following a battle with cancer. He grew up an inquisitive farm boy in Grundy Center, Iowa – even trying to hatch wild pheasant eggs in an incubator in his bedroom as a child. After high school, he obtained a B.A. from the University of Colorado including a year abroad at the University of Vienna. He then headed east where he received his MBA from Cornell University. Craig obtained a direct commission as an officer in the US Army Medical Service Corp serving from 1966 – 1970 primarily in Korea and Fort Benning, Georgia.
Following his military service Craig put his medical administrative experience to good use as an administrator at Mayo from 1970 – 2020. During that time he served as head of Systems and Procedures; chaired both the Information Systems and the Facilities Departments; served on the Mayo Clinic Board of Governors from 2002 – 2010 and the Mayo Foundation Board of Trustees from 2003 – 2011.
Craig was an active member of Rochester's Autumn Ridge Church making numerous missionary trips to Africa helping to build schools and medical facilities in the rural areas. He enjoyed international travel to many countries with nearly annual trips to England or Australia. He was an avid bicyclist who completed numerous "RAGBRAI's" (Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) with friends and family. He loved sailing on Lake Pepin, Minnesota and hiking in the gorgeous national parks in Utah. Following one of those Utah trips he sent some pictures and wrote: "I view these landscapes as examples of creative beauty. The sights are basically free – all we have to do is look."
But without a doubt Craig's most ardent interest - and core belief - was rooted in "the needs of the patient come first" culture of Mayo Clinic. A colleague recently said, "After meeting Craig for the first time all employees knew without a doubt that the primary cultural value was that patients come first at Mayo Clinic." During his career he became very interested in the history of Mayo Clinic and the Sisters of Saint Francis who had been so devoted to Mayo. In fact, the broader essence of a quote attributed to Saint Francis applies to how Craig centered his life: "Preach always. When necessary, use words." Craig loved taking actions to enhance Mayo Clinic's patient experiences and help others in need.
A private, family service will be held at the family burial site in Iowa as he had specified. In lieu of a public memorial service, members of the public who desire are encouraged to send thoughts and remembrances of Craig to his longtime friend, Jean Keane, who will compile a "memory book" for the family and friends – address to email@example.com. For those wishing to make a donation in his memory, Mayo Foundation is recommended – either to the Doctor's Mayo Society or to the Smoldt Brothers Fund to Enhance Medical Administration Performance