Semiconductor Insights CEO Dies In Diving Accident

A physicist by profession and industry luminary and mentor, Smeaton joined Semiconductor Insights in 1992 and led a management buyout in 1994.

"He was such an anomaly for high tech," said Jenn Markey, vice president of marketing at Semiconductor Insights (Kanata, Ont.). "He was so generous with his time and energy and he so believed in people. He was dedicated to his employees."

Smeaton started his career at Anatek Electronics of Alberta and later went on to either found or hold executive and board positions with a long list of electronics companies, including: Mitel Corp., Triant Technologies, Skystone (acquired by Cisco), Philsar (acquired by Conexant), Sybarus (acquired by Lucent), SiGem (now Mobile Knowledge), SiGe Semiconductor, Triant Technologies, MuAnalysis and Symagery Microsystems (acquired by Psion Teklogix), which he also founded in 1997.

As head of Semiconductor Insight, Smeaton oversaw its growth from 18 to over 155 employees. He was also credited with transforming the technology analysis company into a leading source of technical intelligence to the semiconductor and electronic industries.

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Smeaton was regarded by colleagues as a passionate man who never did anything "half way." The three most important things in his life were his family, his company and diving, according to a company statement. Smeaton was considered a highly experienced deep-water diver, traveling around the world to dive in such diverse locales as Australia's Great Barrier Reef, the Red Sea, the Sea of Japan and Lake Superior.

According to a report in the Ottawa Sun newspaper, Smeaton was diving in the frigid waters of the St. Lawrence River near Rockport when he became trapped under the ice while exploring a shipwreck. Despite efforts by his diving partner and other nearby divers, he could not be rescued. According to a CBC report, Smeaton's body was recovered from the river on Monday (Feb. 19).

Smeaton's family has requested donations in lieu of flowers be made to the Ottawa Mission in his memory. The Mission is an Ottawa charity that assists the homeless. Smeaton's wife, Marg, serves as the Mission's manager of health services.

Along with his wife, Melvin Douglas Smeaton is survived by three sons: Paul, Matt (an employee of Semiconductor Insights) and Kurt.