Gary A. Smith, who operated as the scorebook keeper for Strasburg-Franklin High School’s basketball program for five decades, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 86.
Known as “Smitty” among the Strasburg community, Smith was the black-and-white-stripe-shirted fixture at Strasburg’s scorer’s table for many years, even warranting an award with his own namesake in 2017 – the Gary A. Smith Contributor Award, presented annually to “an Individual Who has Made Significant Contributions to the Strasburg Boys Basketball Program.”
Smith recently presented the award to late Strasburg coach Ed Bode. He was joined in presenting the honor by Canton South girls coach (and former Tigers boys coach) Adam Hall, who posted on Tuesday: “‘Smitty’ was as good as they come. His impact on Strasburg Basketball will be felt for years to come.”
Smith was a 1958 graduate of Dalton High School, but soon found himself operating as Strasburg’s official scorekeeper in 1971. In 1987, Smith was an official scorekeeper for the OHSAA State Basketball Tournament. He also worked as the Tigers’ football scoreboard operator for 30 years, along with working at Greer Steel in Dover for many years until his retirement.
Former Strasburg player Wade Hostetler said that Smith “will forever be a legend for Strasburg Basketball. He loved Strasburg Basketball more than anyone and created such good connections with every player that came through the program!”
Smith was awarded the District 5 Basketball Coaches Association Distinguished Service Award in 2006, and was given the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Hall of Honor Award in 2018.
“No matter the day, the second we walked into practice we were greeted with a smile from ‘Smitty’,” said former Tiger Jerrod Willoughby. “Truly one of the nicest and most genuine guys I’ve ever had the privilege to know. He will be greatly missed by the community and Strasburg basketball.”
Andrew Cregan added that Smith “had such an impact on so many. My favorite person to see everyday at Strasburg,” while McKinley High School softball coach Bryan Fowler added: “’Smitty’ is by far one of my favorite[s]. He loved sports, he loved people, and he made you feel encouraged and uplifted [every time] you were around him. Rest easy…Your impact in the community will be felt for years to come.”
Smith is survived by his wife, Carol Edna, along with his son Kevin, daughter-in-law J.J., and grandsons Adam and Ian.