All good things must come to an end. It’s been a great 32 years for Jacksonville’s longest-serving city alderman, Marshall Smith. On Thursday night, with Mayor Gary Fletcher out of town on city business, he served as acting mayor presiding over his last meeting.
“It was actually (Jacksonville Alderman) Reedie’s (Ray) place to serve as presiding over the meeting, but he wanted me to do it since it was my last one,” Smith said. “I think we both had tears in our eyes at that one.”
About four months ago, Smith announced he would not seek re-election next year because he and his wife, Edith, expressed the desire to move closer to his daughter, son-in-law, and their grandchildren.
The time for Smith’s departure was dependent on the sale of his home. For several months, there were no buyers. In recent weeks, a buyer was interested and his house is expected to sell very soon with the loan closing slated to take place within a few weeks.
“I cannot serve as an alderman if I am not living in the city,” Smith said. “And I am expecting to have my house closing before council meets again.”
Smith, 76, said he enjoyed his time as a city alderman and retired banking executive but stressed it is time to move on to a different phase of life. He has lived in Jacksonville for 37 years.
On Friday, he was in his Foxwood Drive home packing up the family’s personal belongings in preparation for the Vilonia move.
Smith said he will miss Jacksonville.
“There will always be a part of me that remains here,” Smith said. “You don’t spend 37 years somewhere and leave a part of you there.”
Smith plans on returning on Nov. 8 at the Jacksonville Senior Wellness Center where he and the rest of his gospel quartet will be performing at a fund-raising chili supper.
Looking back, Smith said he tried his best to serve the people of Jacksonville. He feels a sense of satisfaction helping the city set up its recycling program which has its large recycling operation on Marshall Road.
Smith said other municipalities have visited the Marshall Road recycling center and used the Jacksonville site as a place to model there operations.
Other people who have worked with Smith over the years say he will be missed.
“He was a great chairman when he was chair of the Jacksonville A & P Commission,” said Advertising and Promotions Secretary Nikki Wilmoth. “He was very professional and always fair.”
Smith served as chairman of the A&P Commission in Jacksonville from 2003-09.
City Finance Director Cheryl Erkel said the city will miss Smith.
“He always had a smile on his face,” Erkel said. “He added a lot to the city council. He had a background in banking so he was very knowledgeable.”
Deputy City Clerk Lynette Culpepper said City Hall won’t be the same without Smith.
“He was super nice,” Culpepper said, adding she knew him for several years. “He was an honest, kind southern gentleman. He was the kind of person you liked being around. His wife, Edith, was also super sweet.”
City Human Resources Director Jill Ross said she worked with Smith for five years. “He was a great man with great morals. He had the finest integrity and was an all-around good person.”
City Public Works Director Jim Oakley said he worked with Smith for 13 years and said the retired alderman had great people skills.
Oakley said he was good at listening to the concerns of people and keeping them calm if emotions starting running a little high.
“He was concerned about people,” Oakley said.
With four months left on Smith’s current term, which is now vacant, the council is expected to allow the seat to remain open until the November election.
Smith served as alderman in Ward 1, Position 2.
Pulaski County’s municipal candidates filing deadline past Friday and there are two people vying in December for Marshall’s vacant seat: Jim Moore, 606 Northaven Court; Jacksonville; and James E Bolden III, 12 Newbury Lane, Jacksonville.