Gibbs Smith, the cofounder of the Utah-based independent publishing house that bears his name, died October 28. He was 77.

Smith and his wife, Catherine, founded the publisher, originally called Peregrine Smith, in Santa Barbara, Calif., in 1969. They moved the company’s offices to a refurbished barn in Layton, Utah, in 1973 and changed the name of the publisher to Gibbs Smith. The house specializes in design, craft, cooking, regional interest, and children’s books and also has a textbook division that publishes supplementary materials.

Smith was an advocate for the importance of independent publishing, especially by houses located west of the Mississippi. In 2007, Pub West gave Smith its Jack D. Rittenhouse Award, which honors publishers for their contributions to western publishing. In presenting the award, Pub West president at the time, Doug Pfeiffer, noted that Smith had, over a three-decade period, “been a vital part of the western publishing scene. His reputation as a publisher of high quality books and a contributor to the community of the book is an inspiration to all publishing businesses across the country.”

To help ensure that Gibbs Smith would remain independent, in 2015 Smith converted the published to an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) and the company will continue to operate under its current management team.

Of Smith’s death and his legacy, company CEO Brad Farmer observed: “Gibbs and Cathy have been insistent that the way to continue their legacy was to transition ownership of the organization to employees; to create an employee-owned company. They are proud of the fact that generations to come will continue to enjoy independent book publishing as Gibbs has.”

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