Dennis Lake Smith Arts Scholarship is Legacy to Longtime Friend

The Dennis Lake Smith Memorial Art Scholarship was created by Carmen and Matt Gambrills to honor their friend and to benefit young Calvert County artists studying at the College of Southern Maryland.

He was an artist, a musician, a pilot and a friend.

Then he was gone.

“He was such a very good friend to so many people. He’s gone and we feel like he was snatched away from us,” said Carmen Gambrill of the void left by the passing of Dennis Lake Smith, of Solomons. “I think of Dennis so much and I wanted a way for his name to live on.”

With her husband, Matt, Gambrill found a way to honor her friend in a way she feels Smith would have approved by creating the Dennis Lake Smith Memorial Art Scholarship with a $1,000 donation at the College of Southern Maryland Foundation. “Dennis would have chosen this for himself. He would be happy to help young artists fulfill their dreams,” Gambrill said.

Smith is remembered as a saxophone and harmonica player with the Southern Maryland band “Round Midnite” and was learning to play the accordion. He flew with his Solomons Island friends to New Orleans for JazzFest as a way to share his passion for music. Although he was offered a scholarship to the Julliard School of Music, Smith chose to study art at the Maryland Institute of Art and was the artist who designed the first Cavalier billboard welcoming visitors to Calvert County. Smith graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University later in life, while working full time. He was a software applications engineer with Wyle Labs in California.

Smith died at his home on May 1, 2011.

On May 20 this year, Gambrill hosted an event at her business, carmen’s gallery, in Solomons to raise money for the scholarship. Her goal is to have the fundraiser as an annual event. “So many of the friends that Dennis brought together through his love of music and art came together again in a big way,” Gambrill said of the more than $3,800 raised from Smith’s friends and family for the scholarship.

“Through our heritage, those of us in the family share his joie de vivre, his quick humor and his love of all things creative, colorful and beautiful, whether crafted by hand or by nature. But the friends he chose are also of the same cloth, and he was fortunate to be able to spend such happy times with all of you,” said Melinda Kay, Smith’s sister, of those gathered at the scholarship fundraiser.

“Southern Maryland is home to some of the most talented and creative artists. The Dennis Lake Smith Memorial Art Scholarship continues the legacy of Mr. Smith and ensures that Calvert County students attending CSM have the resources they need to keep the arts alive in Southern Maryland,” said Development Director Martina Arnold.

For information on donating to the Dennis Lake Smith Memorial Art Scholarship, visit For information on establishing a scholarship, contact  Arnold at 301-934-7649 or