Kendon Smith was born on July 4, 1918 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He earned a BA in 1941 from the University of Minnesota and an MA in 1942 and a PhD in 1943 from Princeton University.
From 1943 to 1946 he was employed in various positions at the Office of Scientific Research and Development, U.S. Government, including as research psychologist in problems concerned with combating Japanese “suicide plane” attacks. From January 1946 to June 1946 he served as a research fellow in the Department of Psychology at Princeton. He went on to become an instructor in the department from 1946-’47 and an assistant professor from 1947-’48. In 1948 he was hired as an associate research professor and research coordinator at Pennsylvania State University. In August 1949 he was named a professor in the university’s Department of Psychology.
In 1954 Smith was appointed head of the Department of Psychology at Woman’s College (now The University of North Carolina at Greensboro). He was named president of the North Carolina Psychological Association in 1960 and elected to the council of representatives of the American Psychological Association in 1966. In 1968 he was awarded a Fulbright lectureship and took a leave of absence from UNCG to teach at the University of Turku in Finland for a year. Smith retired from UNCG in 1983. The Kendon Smith Lecture Fund was created in his honor. In 1987 he was appointed to the N.C. State Board of Examiners of Practicing Psychologists. He passed away on September 2, 2002.