Dear Fellows,

It is with profound sadness that we inform you of the passing of Class 15 Fellow, Sheila T. Smith, after a ten-year long battle with cancer. Gordon Brothers Chairman, Ken Frieze, shared the following about his colleague and friend:

Today is a profoundly sad day for the Smith family, Gordon Brothers and all those who loved, knew and were inspired by our dear friend and colleague, the truly incredible Sheila Ann Tompkins Smith. Sheila passed away peacefully at her home on Saturday surrounded by family after nearly a decade-long battle with pancreatic cancer. We mourn her loss and have expressed our deepest condolences to her family.

I first met Sheila over 30 years ago. Over the span of three decades, our relationship grew from collaborator to mentor to Gordon Brothers board member to Senior Advisor—and most importantly, a dear friend.

Sheila was one-of-a-kind. There was no one more positive and inspiring. Sheila, dressed in bright colors with a welcoming smile and outstretched handshake, shifted the center of gravity of every room she walked into. Her energy was infectious to all those who had the good fortune of interacting with her. 

She battled her cancer with that same tenacity, defying the odds and extending her life. She inspired many along the way to never give up. Her impact in the medical community—both on other patients and doctors—will forever be remembered.

Sheila began her professional career as a special education teacher, moving to Boston to get her MBA in Public Management. Soon thereafter she was a senior finance officer of a building materials company that failed, resulting in her introduction to the restructuring industry and transition to Managing Director at KPMG Corporate Recovery. She then achieved one of the pinnacles of our profession: building and running one of the largest restructuring practices in the industry, Deloitte CRG.

Sheila retired from Deloitte in 2015 after serving 15 years in numerous leadership positions including Restructuring Service Line Leader for the Americas Region, Service Line Leader of the U.S. and the New England FAS practice. Since retirement from Deloitte, Shelia was a Senior Advisor to Gordon Brothers: serving a critical role in guiding our firm through many key decisions. An incredible force of nature, Sheila wielded her charisma and intelligence to move so many transactions forward.

Sheila’s perhaps greatest impact was as a motivator: inspiring the people who work for and with her to achieve their best. She was a teacher at heart, helping contemporaries and up-and-comers with the basics and nuances of conducting business effectively. She was considered a leading authority in the restructuring marketplace and has been recognized by numerous professional organizations including the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI), Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY), International Women’s Insolvency & Restructuring Confederation (IWIRC), New York Institute of Credit (NYIC), Turnaround Management Association (TMA) and the American College of Bankruptcy (ACB).


Sheila is survived by her beloved husband, Bruce, their daughters, Ashley and Abigail, her son-in-law, Steven, her cherished grandchildren, Hannah, Paige, and Sam, her mother, Grace, her brother, David, and her half-sister Lori.

Sheila, we will miss you. You’ve been an inspiration to all of us—making each and every one of us a better version of ourselves. With a heavy heart, we say goodbye. May your memory be a blessing to all who knew you.

Sheila's family is planning a memorial service for early December. We offer our deepest condolences to Sheila's husband, Bruce, her children, grandchildren, and her many friends and colleagues.

Thank you,