Longtime voice of council steps down after seven years on dais

North Ridgeville

Michael Fitzpatrick

Longtime Clerk of Council George Smith called the roll for council one last time on April 3.

Smith retired effective the end of the meeting. It ends a term that began in 2010 when City Council President Kevin Corcoran asked him to apply for the opening.

He’s best known for his smooth baritone voice that would give the public reading of each ordinance as it went through its approval process.

Smith has been sidelined in recent years by health problems and, at 76, decided to retire and enjoy the rest of his years with his family and fishing on a giant pond behind his North Ridgeville home with his bride of 55 years, Carol, nearby.

Smith retired from a 22-year career with the U.S. Air Force and another 20 years with the National Weather Service where he worked as a meteorologist – a skill he learned in the military.

It was during his time reading weather reports in the military and in the NWS that he came across his skill for announcing. During his time in the NWS and before computerized voices read the weather report on the NWS service, he would read the reports.

“I had a lot experience in public speaking and I’ve got a ‘projective’ voice,” Smith said.

Mayor David Gillock and state Sen. Gayle Manning both presented documents celebrating Smith’s service over the years in a ceremony at the close of council’s April 3 meeting, which was attended by Smith’s close family and friends, including old council members.

“I figured it was time with all the health problems I have now. If it hadn’t been for that, I might have stayed a few more years,” Smith said of his decision to retire.

Corcoran said the decision to ask Smith to apply for the clerk job was an easy one for him.

“Besides being a great guy and someone who holds performing public service dear to his heart, George loves the city of North Ridgeville. He always treated his service as if it was a privilege to serve rather than treating it as a job. He understood his role, performed it well and kept the council clerk office running smoothly for, what we believe to be, the longest-serving council clerk in our city’s history,” Corcoran said.

Born in Elyria, Smith moved to North Ridgeville in 1961. He attended Elyria Catholic for a year before graduating from a military school in Georgia and embarking on a 20-plus year in the U.S. Air Force.

“I just always thought a lot about the military. I joined it when I was 18 and retired when I was 43. I had a good career. I enjoyed it,” Smith said of his time in the Air Force, which included two tours in Alaska, where he became familiar with 24 hours of daylight and conversely 24 hours of darkness.

“The sun would go behind the mountain and it would be like twilight for a couple of hours and then come out,” Smith said of the summer days in Alaska that never end.

He spent a little more than three years stationed at Eieleson AFB and saw a lot of dark cold nights, too.

“We were 125 miles below of the Arctic Circle. We’d get a lot of darkness in the winter, but the summers made up for it,” Smith said.

Smith, who has three grown children and four grandkids, spent time stationed in Pittsburgh during his military stint, and it was during that time he became a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I was never a football fan until I got there,” said Smith, who never played football as a boy growing up in Elyria.

Smith’s tenure as clerk of council ended up being the longest in city history, according to Corcoran.
When asked what he’ll miss most about the job, Smith gave a sliver into his personality – a people person, curious and always generous in praise.

“Just the people I had to work with. And it was interesting. I had two full-time employees that were just the greatest people they ever put on earth. Frankly, they did most of the work,” Smith said.

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