The Fayette County Commissioners issued a proclamation Monday honoring a Perry Township fiscal officer who served the community for nearly half a century.
Howard D. “Hap” Smith was acknowledged by the commissioners recently as the longest serving elected official in Fayette County after he served as a fiscal officer in Perry Township for 45 years.
“I know that Hap was pretty proud of the fact that he was the longest serving official in the county,” Dan Dean, county commissioner chairman, said. “He really enjoyed his work. I remember seeing him and some other township officials buying asphalt to patch holes. He comes from an older time of public service and was always ready to do the work; mowing, plowing, fixing holes.”
Smith, age 79, of New Martinsburg, passed away recently at Bethesda North Hospital in Montgomery. Smith was born on Aug. 25, 1937 in Fayette County, the son of George and Lucy (Hamilton) Smith. It was around his birth that he earned his nickname “Hap,” after he was slow to talk but always had a happy smile on his face. He was one of 11 kids who lived in a two-bedroom home, according to his son, Hugh D. “Denny” Smith.
“My wife always asked him, ‘Well where did you sleep?’” Denny said. “He said, ‘In bed.’ She of course always asked, ‘Well with that many kids how did you decide who got the bed?’ He said, ‘First person to bed, got the bed.’ He was always known for going to bed early and getting up early.”
Hap Smith graduated from Edward Lee McClain High School in 1955, served in the U.S. Air Force and worked for DP&L for 37 years before he retired. He raised three sons, Howard D. “Buzz” Smith II, Denny, and Heath D. “Dusty” Smith and lived in New Martinsburg for 57 years.
“At age 40 he would come home after working and decided he was going to go jogging in his work boots,” Denny said. “He would start and count electric poles. The first pole was his first goal and then after he got comfortable with that he would move onto the next pole. He finally got himself up to running 5k marathons.”
In addition to his professional career, Smith was a member of the Masonic Lodge, 32nd degree Master Masons and the Washington Shrine Club. He was also a member of the New Martinsburg Christian Fellowship Church and attended Walnut Hills Church of Christ in Christian Union.
According to Denny, his dad was always ready to help those in need. When Denny opened The Willow Restaurant in Washington C.H., he said his dad was amazed that anyone would get into the restaurant business. This didn’t stop his father from coming into town nearly daily to enjoy some food or check up on business. Smith even took time over the past seven years since the opening of The Willow to help Denny keep his yard mowed.
“He was a very active person,” Denny said. “Because we have been so busy and we only have about four acres, dad would mow it for us. He really liked doing things for people. He would fix sweet corn and drop it off. All of his friends and others would get cheese at Christmas time from him.
“He led a good life, was very humble but took pride in his work and taught us right from wrong,” Denny said. “He taught us a good work ethic and we just hope we can live up to his standards.”