Linda L. Smith, MD, age 83, a long-time New York City resident, passed away on May 29, 2024 from complications due to metastatic breast cancer. Linda leaves behind her beloved husband, Carl Prince, as well as stepson Jonathan Prince, stepdaughter Elizabeth Prince, son-in-law Andy Cooper-Prince, daughter-in-law Jackie Dowd, and grandchildren Alana Cooper-Prince and David Prince. 

Linda was born and raised in Yonkers, New York, to first generation immigrant parents from Poland. She attended Catholic schools for 12 years, graduating at age 17 with a secretarial degree. From the beginning, she decided she would work in Manhattan and her superb typing and shorthand skills landed her a job as a “copy girl” at American Airlines, writing letters dictated by executives on a recording device. She worked at American for the next 20 years, ending her career as a design assistant developing airport check-in areas for American Eagle, the small regional airports of the larger entity.

Linda had bigger aspirations. She enrolled as an evening student at Hunter College while working full time to complete her bachelor’s degree with a Psychology major. In the process, she passed the required lab science by getting an A in the Introduction to Biology course.  She was hooked. Linda then took her small pension accumulation in cash, left American and funded two years of daytime study of all the premed courses, including Chemistry and Organic, Anatomy and Physics, Pre-Calc and for good measure, Calculus as well.

Though she maintained a GPA equivalent to A-, she was denied admission to the pre-med major program designed to place its best students in medical schools. She was much older than the early twenty-somethings in the undergraduate ‘day school.’ But she was not deterred. Linda volunteered at Memorial Sloan Kettering, willing to take on any task assigned with no pay. Linda aced the MEDCATS (94th percentile) and impressed some docs with the quality of her work allowing her to secure two key recommendations. So, at the age of 45 she was admitted to NY State Medical School Upstate in Syracuse, in an era of developing opportunities for ‘older’ women. 

After graduating med school, Linda interned at Roosevelt-St. Luke’s Hospital in Manhattan.  She went on to become resident and, in a signal honor, chief resident In 1990. She was kept on at Roosevelt as an attending physician, just as the Aids-HIV crisis exploded on the medical scene.  

Linda never looked back. She immediately shifted her work as an attending physician and became a pioneering HIV doc. She achieved maverick status at age 50 by accepting a position at the now defunct St. Clare’s hospital in East Harlem as the first director of the Cardinal Spellman HIV Clinic. When it folded, she moved on to become medical director of the HIV Clinic at the Beth Israel Hospital branch in Harlem, and eventually moved on to oversee the major HIV clinics established by Mt. Sinai hospital branch in Harlem.  There she worked tirelessly to treat dying patients, fought those who claimed that God’s will had inflicted AIDS on those young men, including many talented figures in the art and acting world.

She remained in Harlem for the rest of her career.  As treatments became available, Dr. Linda Smith remained a visible and forceful presence in overseeing several Sinai components dedicated to treatment of AIDS.  She particularly focused her attention on programs treating minority patients and those on Medicaid. She retired at age 75 in 2016, when an earlier bout of breast cancer returned after a ten-year remission. Her entire career in the Sinai system was spent in Harlem, and her awesome medical and political talent concentrated entirely on the least among us.


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