IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND
In the Memory of
J. BOND SMITH, ESQUIRE, DECEASED
TO THE HONORABLE, THE JUDGES OF SAID COURT:
Your Honors, at the direction of the President of the Bar Association of Montgomery County, it becomes my sad duty to report to your Honors the passing from this life of J. Bond Smith, Esquire, a distinguished member of the Bar of this Court.
Mr. Smith was born in Takoma Park, Maryland, the only child of Benjamin F. and Emma Bond Smith, and at the time of his death, he resided in the home in which he had been born on July 13, 1890. His home, situate at the border of his beloved Maryland and the District of Columbia, at the corner of Pitney Branch Road and Eastern Avenue, was one of the original residences in Takoma Park, and was built by his father.
Mr. Smith had great attachment for his family, and built a home on Eastern Avenue adjacent to his family home in which he resided for many years. This was the scene of pleasant social gatherings for the people of Takoma Park, of Montgomery County, and of the State, and it was for years a focal point of the political life of the community. During all of the years of his parents’ life, Mr. Smith maintained close contact with them, and he and his father spent pleasant days together, not only in their home community, but fishing together, a pastime which they both enjoyed.
Mr. Smith was a student at the dd McKinley Manual Training School, more familiarly known as the Tech High School, in Washington, and he was graduated from the George Washington University Law School, and admitted to the Bar of the District of Columbia in 1912, the year prior to his graduation. He first worked for the Federal Government in the Post Office Department, and during World War I, he was occupied with the enforcement of the Espionage Act provisions relating to the use of mail for enemy purposes, disaffection, and kindred activities. He was a prodigious student, became an expert in matters of mail fraud litigation, trying many cases involving the complexities of that important phase of our Federal law during his long career.
He then practiced in Washington, and was admitted to the Bar of the Court of Appeals of Maryland on May 19, 1932.
In his early life, when the area in which he lived was much less populous than it is today, and might be considered in the country, he formed friendship with the family of his near-by Silver Spring neighbor, Senator Blair Lee, the only resident of this County ever to represent our State in the United States Senate. The friendship which Mr. Smith made with the Senator’s son, Col E. Brooke Lee, lasted from the days of the old ball diamond at Georgia and Eastern Avenues to the time of Mr. Smith’s death. He was keenly interested in politics, and believed it to be part of the citizen’s duty to work in politics for the party of his choice, but more particularly for the betterment of Government and the public good. He was a democrat by political conviction, a liberal and forward-looking man by nature, a studious and diligent worker, and a vigorous, strong, advocate.
In 1947, he became the Chairman of the Democratic State Central Committee for Montgomery County, the leader of his party. It was my great privilege to serve with him as his Vice-Chairman. He was a staunch believer in organization and the concentration of effort to accomplish good. As a liberal, he had implicit faith in people. It was largely through his efforts that the actual leadership and authority in the Democratic Party was broadened to and placed in precinct officials. He was one of the originators of the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and served with the Commission as its general counsel for nearly thirty years. He was an able legislative draftsman, and much of our law on planning and zoning, he wrote. He was recognized, not only at this Bar, but nationally, as an expert on zoning law.
He spent many hours, not only in the drafting of laws but in the advocating of their passage in the Legislature, and in defending them in the Courts. His path was not always easy because many did not share his views for the need of zoning and planning. The great growth and development of our County has proved him right. Many knew him as Mr. Park and Planning, and nearly all lawyers sought his advice when faced with a problem in that specialized branch of law.
He served as attorney for the Town of Takoma Park for many years. He was a member of the Maryland State Bar Association, the District of Columbia Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and the National Press Club. He once served as a member of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission.
In addition to his family, the law, and politics, which Mr. Smith probably loved in that order, he was deeply devoted to Fenwick Island where he built his vacation retreat. Years ago, this shore in Delaware above Ocean City, Maryland, was barren, but Mr. Smith obtained for himself and his neighbors there, through his efforts, title to part of that shore and, over the course of years, he studied, fished, and enjoyed life on the ocean. The people of Fenwick Island were close to him and he to them. Fenwick Island was in the nature of a second home to him.
He died, your Honors, on October 20, 1961, and did not live to see his ocean home, which he had built, destroyed by a devastating storm, and it may be as well. He had strength, and he not only admired the strength and power of the ocean, the wind, and its storms, he enjoyed them as much as enjoyed the battle of Court trial, and admired a strong adversary.
His most outstanding characteristic probably was strength of conviction. If he believed in a cause, he fought for it even if he knew that it was doomed to defeat. He endeavored to inform himself and others on matters of public interest. In his home community of Takoma Park, I recall on occasion, when he desired to bring to the attention of the citizenry of that community certain information regarding the City government, and he caused to be printed over his signature a full page advertisement in the paper, directing the facts to all who would read them.
He was widowed by the death of his first wife, the former Miss Mary Grable, of Takoma Park. He was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church, Takoma Park, D.C.
October 20, 1961, Jesse Bond Smith died at the age of 71. He is survived by his widow, Aysha Straughan Smith, a son, Mr. J. Bond Smith, Jr., of Brookside New Jersey, and three daughters, Mrs. William Griffith, of Beallsville, Maryland, Mrs. David Luthringer, of Bethesda, Maryland, and Mrs. Joe M. Kyle, of Silver Spring, Maryland, the wife of an able member of this Bar and member of the County Council.
As we close this proceeding in the time-honored tradition of officially reporting to the Court the death of our brothers at the Bar, we must be conscious that Bond Smith, in addition to leaving for posterity the zoning laws that he drafted, leaves with each of us at the Bar, who fought with him and against him in accordance with the rules of our profession, a fond memory of his vigor, integrity, friendship, skill and learning.
To the members of his family, the Bar Association of Montgomery County expresses sympathy in their loss, and as the draftsman of this memorial and his friend, I express my personal condolences.
So that this memorial may become a part of the records of this Honorable Court, I move the Court, on behalf of the Bar Association of Montgomery County, Maryland, that this memorial be received by the Court, permanently filed among the records thereof, and that the Clerk of this Court be authorized and directed to forward copies of the same to the members of the family of our departed brother; and I further move that when this Court adjourns or stands in recess that such adjournment or recess be in memory of Jesse Bond Smith, Esquire, deceased.
Joseph B. Simpson, Jr.
For the Bar Association of Montgomery County, Maryland
(Following the recitation of Mr. Simpson the following statements were recorded as follows):
JUDGE ANDERSON: Your motion will be granted, Mr. Simpson.
Now is there anyone else would like to say a few words for any other member of the Bar?
MR. CHRISTOPHER: I would not as President of the Bar, but I would certainly appreciate it if any other members wish to say something in connection with Mr. Simpson’s remarks – sometimes we do and sometimes we do not.
JUDGE SHURE: Well, of course, I understand how difficult it is at a time like this to say anything that will be of any help. This is a very sad and difficult day for me because, as some of you may know, I grew up in Takoma Park and Bond was my great friend from the time I was a little boy.
We worked together in politics and he was very helpful to me in the legal profession. He was a great civic leader in Takoma Park as well as throughout the County and this State.
To say a great deal would be merely to reiterate what Mr. Simpson has already said; but I certainly can emphasize, from personal knowledge over these many, many years, that he was a fierce but very fair and ethical competitor at all times, and you always knew where you stood with Bond Smith.
It was also my pleasure to know his family; from the time Mrs. Griffith and Mrs. Kyle, young Bond were little children. I also knew his first wife, who had an untimely death, and have known his second wife, Aysha, since they were married.
In thinking about what I might say today I recall something that Bond told me many years ago when he was talking about marrying Aysha. He said to me, and I quote it as best I can, that “He was one of the luckiest men alive because he had not one, but two devoted spouses” and he meant every word of it.
Now his friendship and guidance in politics and in law will always be with me, and the County has certainly lost a great citizen. Little more I can say except to extend my deepest sympathy to his wonderful wife and family, and friends.
JUDGE SHOOK: It is very difficult to say anything or to add to anything after listening to the beautiful memorial presented by Mr. Simpson. I am happy that a copy of the document is going to the family of Bond Smith.
We all know, of course, that our friends who go live on in their family, in their children, and in the hearts’ of their friends.
I met Bond first as an adversary when he was counsel for the Park and Planning Commission, and I was a member of the General Assembly. I knew Bond would like to have me tell this to you because he used to laugh some over it when I would remind him of it. One week end after a particularly hard week concerning legislation involving the Planning Commission I told him as we left, when he said, “Well, it’s been a tough week, hasn’t it?”, I said, “Yes, Bond, you literally have given me a pain in the neck.” And, literally he had, from the never standpoint, and later I told him that he was having a little more difficulty with those members of his own party than he was with mine.
I got to know him very well, and anyone that knew him had to respect him. There were many virtues that he had, all of which have been enumerated to you – perhaps I shouldn’t say “all” because I know his family knows, those very close to him know of many others.
We shall miss him. And I am impressed and proud, and I believe my life has been enriched by knowing him.
My sympathy to his family.
JUDGE PUGH: Of course I could not allow this occasion to pass without making a few remarks myself about Bond Smith.
I knew Bond Smith from the day that I started to practice law in Montgomery County back in 1931. Most of the time during his political life and my political life, and my professional life, we were always on the same side of the political fence. In the courts, however, we were frequently on the opposite side of the fence; and I can say to the members of his family, and to the members of the Bar, that if Bond Smith was ever on the opposite side from you, you had better prepare your case. He not only prepared it thoroughly, time meant nothing to him, the time of the court really meant nothing to him when he was advocating his cause.
Most of his litigation that he appeared in was zoning matters. You must recall – I know a good many of your older lawyers recall – that the zoning laws were in their infancy in those days. Zoning laws started in this County in 1928. Bond Smith started out, I think, with the Park and Planning Commission; so his name functioned before this Court during the period of his life in advocating or defending the Park and Planning Commission, and whenever a case was set for trial and Bond Smith was involved in it the Court usually had to give him a couple days, because he was a very, very thorough and very able lawyer. If any man was an authority on the zoning laws of this County J. Bond Smith was that authority.
He was humble, he was able, and when he litigated a zoning matter he didn’t stop at the Court of Appeals of Maryland he would go all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, if he could get in the Supreme Court of the United States.
He was outstanding democratic politician along with it. But he was a lawyer-politician, and what I mean by that – without casting any reflection on politicians who are not lawyers – he was primarily a lawyer, and politics were merely his side issue. But as a democratic politician he was very, very sincere, and he was a great party man, and in those days a party man was something to be proud of. He was a member of the democratic organization, he never wavered in loyalty to that organization. Even when they went down in defeat in 1934 Bond Smith came up fighting another fight for that organization, and with outstanding honesty and integrity. He was always on the platform; time meant nothing to him when he advocated either a matter of politics or a matter of law.
I always admired Bond Smith. He was a very, very close friend of mine professionally and politically. I was saddened when he died. But as time passes on, you know, we will all reach that stage sooner or later.
He lived a full life. He lived his fourscore and ten years and one year above. But he lived a full life of the law. He lived a full public life, and he was to be admired in both fields. I admired him, and everybody that came in contact with him admired him.
I am sorry that he passed away, but I am sure he has gained his reward based upon what he did on Earth; in his contact with human beings and contact with the people of this County, and in advocating an establishment of an excellent, outstanding zoning law – he is the cause of it, and, as everybody has said, “He was Mr. Zoning Law himself”, and he was, and he loved it.
I join in with the other Members of the Court in expressing my condolences, but not to the idea of sadness, but to the idea of merely bringing to the attention of the family, and the members of the Bar, that he was a good man; he was an able lawyer, and he was a great citizen, and – well, now here is Mr. Christopher.
(Whereupon, Mr. Christopher started the ceremony in memory of Einar B. Christensen, Esquire, Deceased; and the ceremony for and In The Memory of J. BOND SMITH, ESQUIRE, DECEASED, was concluded at 2:00 o’clock p.m., October 1, 1962).