Remembering Edward Smith, a mayor who shaped Mineola

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Edward Smith was good friends with John DaVanzo, a longtime Village of Mineola trustee, and Lou Sanders, founder and publisher of the Mineola American.

Smith, a former village mayor and president of the Mineola Chamber of Commerce and Lions Club, joined them on the village’s Wall of Honor on Tuesday, a tribute to his “selfless” public service, said Matthew Smith, his son.

“All three of these men helped shape our village for decades to come,” village Mayor Scott Strauss said at Tuesday’s Mineola Chamber of Commerce meeting. “All three led by not just words, but by their actions.”

Smith was chosen as this year’s Wall of Honor inductee after his death last September at age 92. 

The Chamber of Commerce started the Wall of Honor last year as a way to recognize people who have “steadfastly given of themselves for the betterment of our village,” Strauss said.

In 1955, Smith founded Smith & DeGroat Real Estate in Mineola, which is now a prominent Long Island real estate firm run by Matthew Smith.

Steve Ford, a past chamber president, said he remembers Smith selling him the building for his Willis Hobbies store 17 years ago.

Smith spent 22 years on the Village Board, including 10 as mayor from 1975 to 1985 and another 12 as a trustee.

Strauss said he remembers seeing Smith run board meetings as a boy and admiring the way he “owned the room.”

“He guided the village in progression for decades to come with a steady hand,” Strauss said. “… All through my adult life and certainly as mayor, I looked back and said, ‘I remember what Mayor Smith did then.”

Smith was greatly involved in the Mineola Lions Club for 60 years, and it was named after him in 2000.

Smith “just cared about doing the best job he could,” and he instilled the values of community service in his children, Matthew Smith said.

“I think the service that we have towards Mineola and the compassion we have for it, I know it’s in my blood,” he said.

Smith became president of the Mineola Chamber of Commerce when the group had only about 50 members, said Gary Katz, owner of Harry Katz Carpet One in Mineola.

Smith’s successful leadership led the chamber to ask him to stay on for a third year as president, and it had about 200 when he stepped down, Katz said.

“He thought it was going to go extinct at one time, and his passion was to get it back on his feet,” Matthew Smith said.

A plaque bearing Smith’s face and a brief biography will eventually join others at Village Hall honoring Sanders and DaVanzo, who became the Wall of Honor’s first inductees last year.

It’s “nearly impossible” to fit all their accomplishments in such a small space, Strauss said. But the wall is a way to honor the many people whose dedication to Mineola makes it special, said Tony Lubrano, the Chamber of Commerce president.

“It’s the people who took time to step away from what they normally do to find a way to give back to this community in a way that makes a difference, and we are blessed in this town to have so many of those types of people,” said Lubrano, owner of Piccola Bussola Restaurant.

 

Reach reporter Noah Manskar by e-mail at nmanskar@theislandnow.com or by phone at 516.307.1045 x204. Also follow us on Twitter @noahmanskar and Facebook at facebook.com/theislandnow.

By Noah Manskar

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