William C. Smith. At the end of his long journey, Bill died peacefully on Friday, Oct. 26, 2012, at Riverside Health Care Center in East Hartford.
He was born in Hartford on June 11, 1917, son of Elsie Margaret and William L. Schilling. He was the husband of 68 years of Marion (Mather) Smith, who predeceased him in 2009. He was a lifelong resident of East Hartford and a 1935 graduate of East Hartford High School. As a veteran of World War II
, he served his country in Germany in the U.S. Army
Counter-Intelligence Corps as a special agent. In 1977, he retired from Pratt & Whitney Aircraft after 38 years of service, and his last title was senior industrial engineer in charge of special studies. Bill was a lifetime member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers, and held all offices of local chapter No. 75. He also served as president of the institute's northeast region and then served 10 years as the institute's national director of community affairs. He was also listed in the Who's Who in Engineering, Third Edition, and received the institute's Fred C. Crane Award for Distinguished Service. Bill was known for tackling things he wasn't supposed to accomplish during his long life, including winning a town election as a member of the Republican Party in East Hartford. In 1967, as its town chairman, he led his party to a victory over the Democratic Party, which broke a 20-year gridlock at Town Hall. After retiring from politics, he stayed busy writing opinion columns for the East Hartford Gazette and the Manchester Journal Inquirer, which led to his writing a history of government in his hometown, "Government as Practiced By East Hartford, Connecticut Politicians," a 278-page tome that he published himself. Never one to let progress pass him by, Bill and his grandson, Christopher Smith, developed a website, Timely Topics, to continue to showcase his opinion column. Bill was very interested in music over the years, but by his own admission, he couldn't sing or play an instrument. He was the front man of the Mayfair Orchestra during the 1930s and 1940s, touring all over Connecticut. During the 1960s and 1970s he could be found working as a DJ at many social events. With extensive gardening experience learned from his mother, Bill began growing flowers and selling bouquets from a flower cart in front of his home on Long Hill Street. For many years he produced several hundred bouquets that were eagerly sought after by folks driving by each day. He charged a mere pittance and the coins were deposited in a small box using an honor system that was never abused. Bill served as a member of the Investment Committee of the First Congregational Church for many years, relying on his own successful investment experiences, which covered several decades. A prolific blood donor, he donated well over 100 pints over the years. He was a 60-year Mason, and a lifelong Athletics baseball fan dating back to the days when they played in Philadelphia. For many years he organized an annual high school class reunion for the graduates of the old East Hartford High School on Center Street. Later, he helped raise funds to upgrade that building when the town converted it to the Community Cultural Center. Bill was a man born, raised, and educated in East Hartford, and cared deeply about what happened there. He shared his political views in many ways over the years in town. Many of them were not popular with some residents, but he always liked to "stir the pot" with the hope that positive progress would continue in East Hartford. Bill's family is especially proud of him for writing an inscription on a bench in Center Park, which recognizes the partnership of athletics and academics in the development of the youth of East Hartford.
Bill was predeceased by his sister, Elsie Buele of Pennsylvania; his brother, Kenneth (Bub) Smith of Bolton; and a grandson, Geoffrey Smith of South Windsor. He is survived by his children, David and Susan Smith of Vernon, Philip and Deborah Smith of South Windsor, Bonnie and John Lemire of East Hartford; his grandchildren, Kerry Reynolds, and her husband, Keith, Christopher Smith, and his wife, Calaura, Alison Lemire, Dan Lemire, Meaghan Smith; and one great-grandson, James Reynolds.
The family would like to thank all of Bill's caregivers at The Atrium of Rocky Hill and the 3CD staff at Riverside Health Care Center in East Hartford, especially Sherry and Bev, for their compassion and professionalism. A special thanks goes to the Connecticut Alzheimer's Society and A Place for Mom
Friends may pay their respects to Bill at the Newkirk & Whitney-Benjamin J. Callahan Funeral Home, 318 Burnside Ave., East Hartford, on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, from 4 to 8 p.m. His services continue on Friday, Nov. 2, at 9:30 a.m. with a Celebration of Life service to be held at 10 a.m. at the funeral home.
At his request, Bill will be cremated, and interment will be at Hillside Cemetery in East Hartford at the convenience of the family.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Connecticut Alzheimer's Society, 2075 Silas Deane Highway, Suite 100, Rocky Hill, CT 06067.
To leave an online condolence, please visitwww.newkirkandwhitney.com