Last week, Maine sportsman and author George Smith passed away after a courageous four year battle with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
George loved Maine. And Maine surely loved George.
Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.
George Smith was an avid sportsman, a prolific writer, and a good-natured friend to all.
He was Executive Director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine for 18 years and he helped create, and then later served on the board of, the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, which has provided more than $20 million for conservation and outdoor recreation projects.
For decades George Smith also wrote columns for The Maine Sportsman magazine, the Kennebec Journal, the Bangor Daily News, and the travel column Travelin’ Maine(rs). He published three books, A Lifetime of Hunting and Fishing: The Ones That Got Away and the Ones That Didn’t, Maine Sporting Camps, and A Life Lived Outdoors: Reflections of a Maine Sportsman.
In addition to all of that writing, for 13 years George hosted the television show “Wildfire,” a show I got to appear on once and a while, that was dedicated to hunting, fishing, conservation, and environmental issues.
George also gave back to the State of Maine through public service, serving five years on the Winthrop Town Council, three terms as Mount Vernon Selectman, one term as Kennebec County Commissioner, seven years on the Mount Vernon Planning Board, and 38 years as a trustee of the Dr. Shaw Memorial Library.
George was the very embodiment of the character of Maine. He was strong but kind, independent but compassionate, wise but humble.
His decades-long advocacy on behalf of conservation contributed to the preservation and the protection of forests, lakes, and streams across our state. Now that will all be enjoyed by generations to come. He put his money where his mouth is. He donated 125 acres in Mt. Vernon to the Kennebec Land Trust, lands to be preserved and protected in perpetuity.
George’s love and respect for our great state is only surpassed by the love which its people, including this Governor and many governors before me, all had for him.
His was a life so fully and so well lived, even as he fought the ALS disease with his characteristic grit, fortitude, and courage to the very end.
I am deeply saddened by his passing, but I know that Maine will best honor his legacy by exploring and loving the camps and cottages, diners, inns, lakes and lands — everything that makes Maine this special place — as much as he loved them too.
My heart goes out to his wife and co-explorer and co-author, Linda; to his children and grandchildren; to his brother, Gordon; and his sister, Edie, during this difficult time.
May the citizens of Maine all emulate his great love for this great state.
This is Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening.