Jack M. Smith, co-founded Eden Corn Festival - The Buffalo News

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Jack M. Smith, co-founded Eden Corn Festival

Feb. 3, 1932 – Nov. 14, 2013

Jack Marion Smith, a retired insurance agent who was active in community affairs in his hometown of Eden, where he was a co-founder of the Eden Corn Festival, died Thursday in his Jekyll Island, Ga., home. He was 81.

Born in Buffalo, as a young boy, Mr. Smith was placed with a foster family in the Eden area, where he grew up. He was a graduate of Eden High School.

Mr. Smith began a long career in the insurance business shortly after earning his state license in 1954. A Nationwide Insurance agent, he worked from his office in Eden and was known for a down-home style, meeting regularly with his clients in their homes, discussing not only insurance needs but life issues. In 1975, he opened his own business, the Eden Agency, and over the years acquired five other agencies, opening a second location in Springville. He retired in 1997

Active in the community, Mr. Smith was a 42-year member of the Eden Chamber of Commerce and served in Chamber leadership capacities, including president. His daughter, Jaclyn “Jackie” Smith followed in his footsteps, also serving as president – the first father and daughter to own that distinction in the Eden Chamber.

Mr. Smith was a member of the organizing committee for the Eden Corn Festival, for which he remained active from its founding in 1962 to this year’s 50th anniversary celebration. He served as the summer tradition’s general chairman, parade chairman and corn master. In his role as softball chairman, the festival’s popular softball tournament became a premier event, attracting teams from throughout Western New York and beyond. In 1994, he was inducted into the Western New York Softball Hall of Fame.

He was a lifetime trustee of Eden’s Immaculate Conception Church, served 13 years on the Lakeshore Community Hospital board of trustees and one year as president, and was chairman of the building fund for the Eden Library and renovation fund drive for Immaculate Conception Church.

Mr. Smith was active in the Western New York Chapter of the National Kidney Foundation, serving as board president several times. He also served as chairman of the Eden High School Athletic Hall of Fame and was an inductee in 1995. Mr. Smith coached boys and girls softball teams and served as treasurer of a boys hockey league.

In retirement, he and his wife of 57 years, the former Mary Ellen Brindley, divided their time between Eden and their home in Jekyll Island, Ga. Mrs. Smith died in 2011.

Survivors in addition to his daughter include two other daughters, Mary Elise “Mimi” and Anita “Winkie” ; and two sons, James “Brad” and John.

A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Monday in Immaculate Conception Church, 8791 S. Main St., Eden.

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