Seth Smith, a 19-year-old UC Berkeley student, died from a gunshot wound on June 15 in Berkeley.
Seth’s young life was taken while on an evening walk in his neighborhood. He was born July 4, 2000, to Phil and Michelle Smith.
Seth grew up in Clarksburg, California, attending primary and secondary schools in Elk Grove, where he graduated with honors in 2018. He was a National Merit Scholarship finalist and was revered by teachers as a student who took “AP everything.”
Seth had a penchant for the theater, having participated in drama events in his primary and secondary schools. He played Creon in Antigone. From Shakespeare and Greek tragedy to Broadway musicals, Seth embraced them all.
His friends say that “Seth was EVERYONE’S brother. He was a kind, generous, giving, beautiful soul.”
Seth attended Cosumnes Oaks High School. Each student at Cosumnes Oaks had the chance to be “student of the day” once during the school year. The event involved, in part, a video interview where each person introduced themselves to the rest of the student body.
The students in Seth’s class liked him so much that they created a special T-shirt to wear when it was Seth’s turn to be the student of the day. This was not something they did for any other student.
Each shirt features a likeness of Seth on the front and back and includes the six steps that are necessary to achieve “Sethvana”: One must walk like Seth, talk like Seth, argue like Seth, “do good math” and, finally, “become the Seth.”
On the front of the shirt, there’s an image of Seth smiling broadly and pointing at the onlooker with the message, “Let’s grapevine!”
Seth’s classmates continued to wear these shirts every Friday in PE class.
After high school, Seth attended UC Berkeley and had nearly completed his studies as a double major in economics and history at the time of his death.
Seth had just begun work as a research assistant to a Ph.D. candidate on a study this summer. He was about to begin his third and final year at Cal and would have graduated next spring. His ambition was to continue his studies at the London School of Economics.
“You didn’t have to be close to him to understand the impact he made,” said Smith’s classmates and fellow UC Berkeley students: “You see it in the people whose lives he touched, in our happy memories of him, every single day.”
Seth is survived by his parents, Phil and Michelle, his sister Madeline and his grandmother Janett, as well as his aunts, Kathy and Kim, and a large extended family of aunts and uncles and cousins.
The community is holding a private vigil and fundraiser in early July to benefit the Cosumnes Oaks High School theater department and students.
Seth’s family has created an academic scholarship fund in his memory.
Police have offered a $50,000 reward to help solve his murder.
Visitation for Seth will be held July 7, 1-6 p.m., at the Herberger Family Elk Grove Funeral Chapel, 9101 Elk Grove Blvd., in Elk Grove, California.