A genius leaves this world

Severely affected by gout, L.O. Smith passed away around noon on December 9, 1913. The cause of death was stated as pneumonia.

Smith is no doubt one of the most successful businessmen to come out of Sweden. A true visionary, he was often ahead of his time – both in terms of innovative business practices and in relation to social reform. His legacy includes a unique method to purify vodka and political work to extend voting rights for workers.

When Smith died, the papers wrote about his achievements. They also reported from the funeral in Blekinge on December 15 – here is an example from the local newspaper:

“At his stretcher, both friends and opponents – the latter dazzled by his meteor-like path – would surely agree that a businessman of the most magnificent nature has left us, one of a kind our country has not had many, if anyone, to show.”

In Blekinge, many flags were flying at half-staff. In Karlskrona, large crowds gathered in front of the German church to show respect.

One reason why relatively few people are familiar with Smith today may be that he died in poverty. The former multi-millionaire left behind no more than around 3,000 SEK. Another reason may be that he lost contact with his relatives due to the family feud – not many people have tried to preserve his memory.

Do you want to learn more about L.O. Smith?

This book is available in English:

The following publications are available in Swedish:

  • Torgny Lindgren: Brännvinsfursten
  • Sjölin, Walter: L.O. Smith: Brännvinskung och socialreformator
  • Carlshamn Punsch, en krönika
  • Carlshamniana 1992 (av Föreningen Karlshamns Museum) pages 91-125
  • Carlshamniana 1994 (av Föreningen Karlshamns Museum)pages 95-147