IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND
M E M O R I A L S E R V I C E
May 12, 1972
Josephine S. Kiebler
Filed August 16, 1972
In Memory of:
HAROLD C. SMITH, SR.
HONORABLE JAMES H. PUGH
HONORABLE WALTER H. MOORMAN
CHARLES W. WOODWARD, President, Montgomery County, Bar Association
ANDREW W. STARRATT, JR., Chairman, Memorial Committee
P R O C E E D I N G S
JUDGE PUGH: This Court convenes today in the Memorial Services for those members of the Bar who died during the past year.
The Court will recognize the President of the Bar Association, Mr. Charles W. Woodward.
MR. WOODWARD: If it pleases Your Honors, it is in the highest tradition of the Bench and Bar that we suspend our usual activities and take time to honor the memory of those members of the Bar who have passed on.
Today we honor the memory of Robert L. McCloskey, Frederick O. Louden, John M. McInerney, Harold C. Smith, Sr., and Lewis A. Dille.
At this time I would like to present Mr. Andrew W. Starratt, Jr., the Chairman of the Memorial Committee of the Montgomery County Bar Association.
MR. STARRATT: On behalf of the Bar Association, Your Honors please, I would like to move that the remarks of these proceedings be spread upon the Minutes. It has been reported that five of our colleagues have departed, all of them having contributed much to the Bar and to everyone who they came in contact with throughout their lives, and I would ask Your Honors to recognize Mr. Barnard T. Welsh who will make his remarks concerning Harold C. Smith, Sr.
MR. WELSH: If it pleases the Court, my remarks are directed primarily to the Smith family.
Death, which washes the earth film from the human soul, has graduated Harold C. Smith, a long-time Montgomery County attorney, from the terrestial court into the celestial conclave reserved for honored lawyers and a few judges.
Christine Rosetti said, “Sing no sad songs for me”, and I suppose that is as Harold Smith would want to be thought at this time.
He was born in Rockville six years before the turn of the Twentieth Century, namely: January 14, 1894, the son of Edwin and Lucy Smith, who were long residents of Montgomery County.
Rockville, in 1894, was a village where children walked to school and there was no such thing as a busing issue. Harold walked from his residence on Forest Avenue, which at one time was selected as a perfect home of its period for the picture, Lilleth, to the old Rockville Academy, from which such distinguished lawyers as Robert Peter, Sr., and Jr., Ed Peter, Tom Dawson and Judge Vinson, had graduated. Harold brought to his law office a love of our village and he attempted to change that which was undesirable and to preserve that which was desirable.
He soon outgrew the provincialism of the Rockville Academy, and attended a small school in Central North Carolina, which even then had a secure reputation for intellectual achievement, namely: Davidson College, which more than held its own with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and old Trinity College, which later became Duke University. It was at North Carolina that some of the courtliness and southern ways which graced his demeanor were acquired.
After leaving the State of grits and gravy, he travelled further south and attended the University of Texas Law School, and then George Washington University School of Law, from which he secured his juris doctorate. Having lived just north of the border during a part of his legal education, he returned to Corpus Christi, where he practiced law and assumed the duties of County Attorney of Brooks County, Texas from 1916 to 1917.
Harold then travelled along an old cattle trail to Wyoming, where he became legal secretary of the United States Veterans Bureau shortly after World War I, from 1919 to 1925. By this time, the circuit-riding lawyer commenced to feel the call of the land of his boyhood and he returned to Rockville in 1925, where he practiced until 1970, and with his son, Harold C. Smith, Jr., from 1953, they became a successful father and son legal partnership.
Although we lawyers like to say the law is a jealous mistress, Harold was able to do more than practice law. He was a dairy farmer and owned several farms in Upper Montgomery County. He farmed them himself and this meant he would get up at sunrise and travel from Rockville to his farm and milk the cows and return to his office, put in a day’s work in the courtroom and return in the evening to the call of the lowing cattle. He was successful with his farming enterprises. He was also astute. Some of his jealous farm competitors said it was Harold who bred Guernseys with Holsteins and came up with a new breed known as Goldsteins.
Harold was civic minded. He was not the meddlesome type of civic leader, whose chief object is to annoy people to get them to do what he should do. His civic activities were focused in the Masons and the Rockville Rotary Club. He was a member of the Montgomery Masonic Lodge, Commandery of Knights Templar, J. F. Allen Royal Arch Chapter and King Solomon Council, of which he was Presiding Officer from 1927 to 1928. Just prior to his death, he received Fifty-Year Certificates of Membership from these organizations.
He was a founder of the Rockville Rotary Club and its President from 1942 to 1943. As an indication of the determination and perseverance of this man, he maintained a forty-year perfect attendance. He was also a founder and a Secretary of the Rockville Chamber of Commerce and his business talents prompted him to become a co-founder of the Montgomery County Bus Company, which was the embryo D. C. Transit Company.
Harold was a patriotic citizen. He served his country with distinction in the Arm of the United States during World War I. He became a member of the Officers’ Reserve Corps as a Second Lieutenant, a commission he held from 1925 to 1930, and he was commissioned a Captain in the United States Marine Corps from 1930 to 1939. He was an active member of the American Legion and in 1928 and 1929, he was Departmental Commander for the Department of Maryland, and in 1929, he presided over the American Legion State Convention and served several years on the Departmental Executive Committee.
In 1935, he was appointed a Police Court Judge by Governor Nice. I remember he held Court in the controversial Old Court House. The courtroom had soaring black mahogany beams and was a room in which a lawyer could stand up and be heard. It had a vaulted ceiling, a gallery for spectators and a high bench for the judges. Many a time, on my way back from the old Montgomery County High School, I stopped to listen to famous cases being tried by famous lawyers. Harold C. Smith was one of them.
When I first commenced to practice law, Judge Prescott assigned Harold and me to defend one accused of the rape of a blind, seventy-eight-year-old woman. The scene of the rape was Ken Gar. It was a place where a white man was not safe. We went there to interview witnesses. Harold was getting along in age, but he never shirked the footwork, which is so essential for a successful lawyer. He enjoyed a jury trial. He reached the jury something as a minister attempts to reach a congregation. He spoke with a certain rhythm, a certain intensity, a certain sincerity, which was most impelling.
Harold is survived by his widow, Ruth Vitale Smith, of Bethesda; by Mrs. Anne L. Adams; our friend, Harold C. Smith Jr.; his daughter, L. Neville Smith, and thirteen grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, all of Rockville. He is survived by a sister, who lives in the great house on Forest Avenue, and three brothers, Edwin, Dunan and Ralph, the former of New Jersey and the latter of Florida.
It seems as time goes on and all of my friends become older, while I remain the same age, that more of my friends are crossing the River where there are Courts without friction and which mete out only justice. Some of Harold’s jealous competitors might say that Harold crossed the River Styx, but we that knew Harold, know that the River he crossed was the River Jordan, and that he is there waiting for the celestial Baliff to say, “Hear ye, hear ye, the Court is in session. Judge Smith presiding.”
JUDGE PUGH: On behalf of all of the judges of this Court I respond to the several memorials that have been presented here today.
The other members of this Court are, most of them are attending the retirement exercises of Chief Judge Hall Hammond in Towson this afternoon and therefore were unable to be here.
The purpose of these memorial services is to spread upon the Minutes of the Court in a Special Docket, the Memorial to the Deceased Members of the Bar, that is a permanent docket and has been so since the beginning of this Court.
These memorial services record the end of the legal career before this Court of the five officers of the Court who memorials have today been presented to it. Most of these deceased members of the Bar were active practitioners before this Court and were personally known to each and every member of the Bench.
I can say on behalf of the Bench that these practitioners upheld the law, recorded among their own records and the records of this Court their abilities as members of the Bar and as officers of the Court.
We mourn their decease, but the Memorials will be placed among the permanent records of this Court, so that they may be viewed at any time by the public.
In behalf of the members of this Bench I wish to express the sympathy of all the judges of this Circuit Court on the demise of our brother officer, Harold C. Smith, Sr.,
The motion to spread upon the Minutes of this Court the remarks made by Mr. Welsh will be granted.
Court is adjourned.