Ex-board member Lehman Smith dies
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 9, 2011 1:46 PM
Former Wayne County School Board member Lehman Smith died Thursday night. He was 74.
A member of the Board of Education for nine years, he was initially appointed to the District I seat in the late 1990s and then re-elected to serve two terms. He was elected chairman in 2004.
He ran for a third term in 2006, but was defeated by Dave Thomas.
From the time Smith joined the board, he said that facilities were his main priority. Academics, while important, were trusted to the professionals tasked with keeping the schools' programs on track, he once said.
Pete Gurley, former member at-large, also served alongside his childhood friend on the board.
The two graduated from Rosewood High School in 1955.
"Not only were we board members together, but we were longtime friends from the time we were born until now," Gurley said this morning.
He called Smith an extremely close friend, a good businessman, and an excellent board member.
"He was just a real fine person to have known," he said. "I also thought a lot of his wife (Polly). We were long-time friends as well and we had double-dated together, socialized together all our life.
"It's just a real big loss for me. It really is."
Board member Rick Pridgen also said Smith will be sorely missed.
"He was instrumental in our facilities plan and wanted to see the expansion of our schools," he said. "He was a key player in that and also he had a big desire to see the facilities of Wayne County up to par compared to other counties around."
Pridgen added that he "thoroughly enjoyed" serving on the board with Smith, who "always put the kids first."
"He was a big help to me when I first got on the school and just learning the system, learning how to get along with other board members, what other board members' interests were and what their passions were.
"Being a farming man and a business man, he was very smart about the decisions and looked at schools as big business. He looked at it from the standpoint of making good financial decisions on behalf of the schools."