Volunteer firefighter was a role model of devotion to community service | TribLIVE.com
Obituary Stories

Volunteer firefighter was a role model of devotion to community service

Deb Erdley
1920225_web1_6733820_Smith_James_88

Jim Smith was a volunteer firefighter’s fireman.

When the Southwest Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department was ready to retire its 1932 Mack fire truck, Mr. Smith, a longtime member of the company, and fellow volunteer firefighter Tom Gressman stepped forward to buy it.

James E. Smith of Greensburg died Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. He was 88.

Mr. Smith’s son, Timothy Smith of Garrett, and his granddaughter, Amanda Smith of Greensburg, remember how they used to shine the truck and anxiously wait for a ride every time there was a parade.

“I was about 10 years old when he bought it,” Timothy Smith said. “When there was a parade coming up, my friends would come down and we’d play on it and clean it all up and get it ready to go.”

Today, the truck is in the Greensburg Fire Department Museum, where Mr. Smith is remembered in a life memorial.

A son of the late James A. and Esther I. Smith, he was born Dec. 14, 1930, in Springfield, Ill.

He served in the Illinois National Guard from 1947 to 1949 and in the Marine Corps from March 1952 to March 1954, during the Korean War.

Timothy Smith said his father moved to Pennsylvania to work in the Hamilton Watch Co.’s factory near Lancaster. He met his wife Julia there, and the two were married in 1955.

The couple later relocated to Greensburg.

Mr. Smith, who retired from the Greater Greensburg Sewage Authority in 1991, was active in community and civic affairs throughout his life. He was a Southwest Greensburg councilman for 28 years.

He was a member of Christ’s Church, Greensburg, and served on its vestry. He belonged to Lodge No. 43 Free and Accepted Masons in Lancaster for more than 60 years. He was also a member of Masonic Lodge No. 225 in Greensburg, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Valley of Pittsburgh and Syria Shriners for more than 60 years.

He was an active volunteer firefighter for more than 50 years. He also was a 39-year member of the Elks and a member of the Western Pennsylvania Region Antique Auto Club, Laurel Highlands Area and Vintage Chevrolet Club of America.

“He also served on the Greensburg Hempfield Library Board for many years. The fundamentals of having a library were important to him,” Amanda Smith said.

The mother of five said her grandfather was a wonderful role model who stepped in to help raise her when she was 5 years old.

“He loved to joke and had the biggest laugh. He would give you the shirt off of his back. If someone needed help, you didn’t have to ask him. He was the first one in line offering to help,” she said.

In addition to his son, Mr. Smith is survived by his wife Julia M. Smith, daughter Patricia M. Smith of Greensburg, two granddaughters, three grandsons and 11 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service was held at 11 a.m. Saturday in Christ’s Church, 145 N. Main St., Greensburg. The Kepple-Graft Funeral Home handled arrangements.

Mr. Smith’s family suggests memorial contributions to Christ’s Church, 122 N. Maple St., Greensburg, PA 15601; or to the Southwest Greensburg Fire Department, 401 Guthrie St., Greensburg, PA 15601.

Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: News | Obituaries
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.