James L. Smead was born on January 9, 1900 in Greenfield, Massachusetts. He served nine months on active duty in the US Army in World War I and then entered Dartmouth as a pre-medical student graduating in 1921. He graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1924. In 1941, he became a Fellow in the American College of Surgeons. He re-entered the military service during World War II in the Medical Corps of the US Naval Reserve. Smead was on the staff of the Springfield Hospital and the Harford Hospital for 37 years. He retired in 1963. He died on September 8, 1976.