Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Charlton Lost 'Friend' Popular Educator Mourned

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Charlton Lost 'Friend' Popular Educator Mourned

Article excerpt

FOLKSTON, Ga. -- More than 750 mourners crowded into Charlton

County High School yesterday to pay their last respects to

community leader and educator Albert Smith.

Smith, 58, drowned Monday after falling from a boat in a pond

behind his house.

During the three-hour memorial service and funeral, friends,

pastors and community leaders eulogized Smith, Charlton County's

first African-American elected official. Smith served as

commissioner from 1986 to 1994 before deciding not to run for

re-election.

"I knew him as a wonderful friend who inspired me to run for

county commission and as a man who I loved and respected

dearly," said former County Commissioner Dale Garard. "I know to

the family your hearts are heavy, but you are not alone. The

whole community is grieving."

Charlton County Sheriff Dobie Conner said the funeral was the

largest ever in the county.

Former County Commission Chairman Jackie Carter, who served on

the commission with Smith eight years, struggled to fight back

tears as he spoke to the audience. Carter said Smith was "one of

the finest commissioners this county ever had."

"This is truly a sad occasion," Carter said. "We lost a friend,

a good leader and an even greater man."

Smith left the Charlton County school system in 1994 to accept

an assistant principal's job at Camden County High School.

Education officials in both counties said Smith was a positive

role model who touched the lives of many co-workers and students

during 25 years as an educator.

"The communities of Charlton County and Camden County suffer

the loss of a true friend," said Bill Giddens, an assistant

principal at Charlton County High School. "Education in Georgia

suffers the loss of a true friend."

Despite his brief tenure in Camden County, Smith was one of the

most popular administrators among students and faculty members,

said Arthur Van Blarcum, Camden County High School principal.

"I only knew Albert Smith three years, but I felt like I knew

him many years," Van Blarcum said. …

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