Smedes York is Co-Owner, Director and Chairman of the Board of McDonald York Building Company. As Chairman, he is involved in all major decisions and contributes to development of strategies. He offers suggestions and ideas about how to improve McDonald York. Smedes also provides views on the performance of management and ensures the company remains financially strong. He is also an Owner, Director and Chairman of the Board of York Properties, Inc.
Smedes is a multi-generation Raleigh native who has significantly contributed to making his hometown the dynamic place it is today. Born in 1941, Smedes knew at an early age that he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his legendary father, J.W. “Willie” York, and work in the company business. The elder York’s passion for his work and the encouragement he shared with his son quickly grabbed Smedes’ attention.
Smedes attended Broughton High School, where he was a multi-sport athlete and a member of its graduating class of 1959. He entered North Carolina State University where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering with High Honors. While there, he played on the basketball team under Everett Case. Smedes served as a Lieutenant in the United States Army Corps of Engineers from 1964-1966, receiving an Army Commendation Medal in 1966 for his service in South Korea. He returned home to continue his studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, receiving a Master of Business Administration degree in 1968. Soon after, he joined the company.
He has turned that knowledge into his own professional career in real estate and construction where he currently serves as Chairman of both McDonald York and York Properties. Smedes’ desire to build communities has reached beyond brick and mortar. He has a long record of involvement in civic groups and public service. He served on the Raleigh City Council from 1977-1979, followed by two terms as the city’s mayor from 1979 until 1983. He has served in a leadership capacity in many organizations, including past president of the Boys and Girls Clubs, past chairman of the North Carolina State Chamber, the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the Trustees of North Carolina State University. His love for the business and building communities drew him to the Urban Land Institute, where he is a past chairman and currently a trustee. His work as a ULI Member includes chairing several advisory service panel assignments including New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
He is past chairman of the Research Triangle Foundation and YMCA of the Triangle. Smedes currently holds positions with the Board of Directors of North Carolina Amateur Sports, North Carolina Beautiful, and the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM). He also serves as an Emeritus Board Member of the Research Triangle Foundation.
He has been inducted into the Raleigh Hall of Fame, Needham Broughton Athletics Hall of Fame, North Carolina Business Hall of Fame, NC State Civil Engineering Hall of Fame, Wake County Boys and Girls Club Hall of Fame, and the Raleigh Regional Association of Realtors Hall of Fame. He has received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine for his work on the 1987 Olympic Festival, the Watauga Medal from NC State University, and the Distinguished Citizenship Award from the North Carolina Chamber.
Smedes and his wife, Rosemary have 2 sons, George and William and three grandsons, Smedes, Bowen and Crawford. His son George is CEO and President of York Properties and both William and George serve on the boards of York Properties and McDonald York Building Company. Rosemary also serves on both boards.