Volunteer firefighter was a role model of devotion to community service
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 .