My town lost a leader and friend the other day. George H.P. Smith, former Mayor, former City Council member, former educator, church leader and a man to look up to, passed way on Saturday at the age of 74. Mayor Smith had been battling ill health for some years. I was not surprised, though I am saddened, to hear that he has gone.
Mayor Smith is remembered in articles in the News Journal and in the Cape Gazette.
George Smith, a Lewes native, served on City Council for many years after retiring from 35 years as a teacher in local schools. In 1994, when long-time Mayor Al Stango retired, Mr. Smith was elected Mayor. He was re-elected four times before he retired from city government a few years back. He has been ably replaced by Jim Ford, continuing a City tradition of Mayors groomed for the position by the predecessors.
Mayor Stango had brought George Smith into the Council in 1976 and I recall Mayor Stango pretty much told us all to vote for George Smith to replace him. Mayor Stango had that kind of pull; he was also right. Mayor Smith was a great leader.
I owe my tenure on the City Planning Commission to Mayor Smith. He was the leader who asked me to join up, and I’ve been glad to serve.
I also was fascinated to watch George Smith run meetings and lead the City. Mayor Smith was always prepared, always quietly in charge, and able to quell unruly Council members and citizens with a simple, teacherly look – usually that appraising glance across the top of the spectacles that says “I know what you are up to youngster. Just settle down now.”
We have lost a leader. Lewes will not be the same without Mayor Smith, but it is also true that we were blessed to have him as a part of this town for the last 74 years. We’re better off than we would have been, and we can carry Mayor Smith’s legacy into the future.
Thank you, Mayor Smith. It was a great pleasure to know you.