ShareThis Page
News

Kittanning accountant retires after 55 years

| Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2006

KITTANNING -- Known to many as "the guy who used to walk down Pine Hill Road to work," local accountant Elmer Smith hung up his walking shoes Tuesday after 55 years.

Smith, a Redbank native, began his career in 1951 working for a Pittsburgh accounting firm, but quickly decided to move back to his home territory of Kittanning to do what he loved to do.

"I decided after a short time that I would rather work with people than with large corporate entities," he said from his bare office on his final day of work. "The big companies were just so impersonal to deal with."

Well before he embarked on a long career, Smith said he knew he wanted to become an accountant after writing a research paper during his freshman year in high school.

"I always liked working with numbers and was good in math and bookkeeping," he said. "I learned that accountants carried a lot of responsibility and I wanted to take on the challenge."

With the technology available today, many people can do their income taxes on their home computer, and Smith is no different.

"My son got me Turbo Tax and so this year, I will be completing my taxes on the computer," he said. "But it wasn't always that easy to just punch in the numbers and let the computer do the work."

In the 1950s and 1960s, Smith said tax forms were completed by writing out all the figures by hand, in pencil, and then having the secretary type three complete copies, using carbon paper.

"It got a little easier when copy machines became available," he said. "You still had to rewrite several pages of numbers if there was a mistake."

While he spent much of his adult life cramming numbers at his North Jefferson Street office, Smith was also actively involved in the Boy Scouts of America.

"When my oldest son joined the Cub Scouts in 1959, I was asked to be on the pack committee," he said. "The first meeting I went to, they voted me in as treasurer."

From that point on, Smith said he spent many weekends with his five sons, camping and attending various scout activities.

"It made me proud to watch my sons grow and achieve the rank of Eagle Scout," he said. "One even became a Life Scout."

As health problems started to slow Smith down, he decided to lessen his activities in and out of the office.

"I should have retired 13 years ago when I turned 65," he joked. "But I had an obligation to give back to the community that has given me so much over the years."

Smith said he plans to travel with his wife Eva, looking for steam engine trains and tending to his rosebushes and yard work.

"I used to cut my grass once a week, but who knows, now I might get bored and cut it twice a day, he said, pondering the free time he will have during retirement.

While tax return preparation won't be his daily task, Smith said he can recall times when he would work until 3 a.m., walk home, eat and shower, and be back at work at 5 a.m.

"It was tough, but you had to be available when your clients were," he said. "They came in at all hours and had their information in everything from grocery bags to shoe boxes to cardboard boxes."

And despite having plans to travel and enjoy his free time, Smith said he will continue to work as a consultant with his partners at his firm, Smith, Bertocchi, Arbaugh, and Hall.

"I told them if they ever need me, just pick up the phone and I will do what I can to help them," he said.

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.

click me