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Obituary for Michael Smith

Date of Death: 1/24/2003

Massillon OH

Michael Smith, 54, of Massillion, Ohio, a native Staten Islander who made his mark on the Island's sports scene, died Friday at home. Born in Pleasant Plains, he moved to Great Kills in the early 1970s and to Tottenville 10 years later. He relocated to Massillion three years ago. Mr. Smith worked for the Department of Sanitation for 20 years, spending the last 10 as a supervisor at the Fresh Kills landfill before retiring in 1999. An Advance All-Star in baseball, the Tottenville High School graduate was the star catcher and center fielder on the school's 1966 PSAL Championship baseball team. Mr. Smith's athletic prowess also extended to the football field. In the mid-1960s, he led the former Plainsmen sandlot team to three Richmond County Football League championships. The team won 21 consecutive games with Mr. Smith as their star running back and quarterback. In the 1970s, he was a starting quarterback for Orion in the Staten Island Touch Tackle League, and in the 1980s, played with the South Shore Touch Tackle League, as a member of the Orange Agents and the Maggots. He won nine championships with teams in that league. In a 2001 Advance report on the folding of the South Shore league, league founder Chris Walsh recalled that the Orange Agents won the first championship in 1981. "They had Mike Smith at quarterback, whose teams were always in the championship hunt." "Without him there wouldn't have been a league," Mr. Walsh said yesterday. "He was a real good guy." Mr. Smith was also was a softball player, and he played in the South Shore Smith League, before being called to serve as a sergeant in the Army during the Vietnam War. He earned two Bronze Stars for his service. After returning home in the early 1970s, he continued to play for the Smith league. Mr. Smith's love of sports was not limited to football or baseball. He also loved skiing, especially the slopes at Mt. Snow in Vermont. While living in Ohio, Mr. Smith served as vice president of the Winking Lizard Boys and Girls Club. He was also a member of a Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in Massillion. "I never had a brother, so I've never lost a brother, but I can't imagine it would be any more painful than this," said his friend since 3rd grade, Matt Galindo. Surviving are his father, Arthur Smith; two brothers, Thomas Smith and Robert Nelson, and four sisters, Jean Ryan, Karen Pearson, Rayna Lamont and Linda Schweiger. The funeral will be Wednesday in the Gray-Rasmussen Funeral Home, Barryville, N.Y., with a service at 10 a.m. Burial will be in Montoza Cemetery, Barryville.