As a tribute to his 90th birthday, I would like to relate my experiences in knowing and working with Lester Smith. There are many facets to his involvement in town government and civic activities, as well as his positions as Town Historian and curator of the King House Museum. If you want information on any of these matters, Lester is certainly the best source, and he will give you a thorough and thoughtful review of what has transpired over the years.
As a lifelong resident of Suffield whose father was very involved in town affairs, I was inspired at a young age to learn about the history of the town and took a great interest in its well-being. That being said, it was in 1987 when I was First Selectman that our Town Historian at the time resigned. It was without any doubt or hesitation that I appointed Lester Smith to fill that position, because I knew that it could not possibly be in better hands. Lester’s work has been outstanding and has helped give the Town of Suffield an image as one of the most desirable communities in the state and beyond.
My most direct experience working with Lester was on the Committee for the Veterans’ Memorial, which was dedicated in 2003. He was invaluable to the success of the project due to his engineering and design background as well as his intense interest and work ethic. Lester worked extensively with the designers on the specifications and the blueprints to be sure they met his very high standards. He conceived the pentagon design, fancy scroll work, and unique fabrications and cuts that you rarely see in modern architecture. He made several trips to the Vermont quarry from which the stone was cut and also to sites in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, where the accessory pieces were cast.
On these trips to meet with the contractors, Lester would insist that they comply to the exact specifications on all phases of the detailed work, right down to the position of the legs of the bronze eagle. The results of his knowledge and expertise are obvious, as the end result is a memorial that is a very special presence in our town, and a fitting tribute to the men and women of Suffield who served our country with honor.
Lester’s continued hard work and dedication to the town is remarkable. We should all applaud his efforts, and appreciate how fortunate Suffield is to be able to benefit from his talents.