Preston R. Smith Sr., retired Moog Inc. personnel director and founder and chairman of East Aurora's annual "Racing Day," died Monday (March 23, 1998) in Roswell Park Cancer Institute after a long battle against cancer. He was 72.
Born in East Aurora, he graduated from East Aurora High School in 1943 and enlisted in the Navy. He served in naval aviation units until his discharge in 1946. He married Jean Adams in 1947.
Smith was employed as a personnel director at Moog in Elma from 1953 until his retirement in 1969. He later worked as a real estate agent for many years.
In 1976, the year East Aurora celebrated its sesquicentennial anniversary, Smith was a primary force in establishing a celebration of East Aurora's history with horses and horse racing. The celebration has become an annual tradition and is known as "Racing Day."
He was a member of East Aurora Lodge 694, Royal Arch Masons; the East Aurora Fish and Game Club; and East Aurora Hook and Ladder Company. He was involved in the Fish and Game Club's annual "Ox Roast" until the club discontinued the event. He then became instrumental in having the East Aurora Fire Department carry on the tradition with its now popular Labor Day "Ox Roast."
Smith enjoyed fishing, hunting and do-it-yourself projects at his home.
Survivors include his wife; two daughters, Cheryl Spengler of Buffalo and Barbara Allen of Fillmore; two sons, Preston R. Jr. of Attica and Steven of East Aurora; five brothers, Griffin Jr., Merritt and Terry "Doc," all of Holland, Burt of East Aurora and Walter "Jake" of Java; his stepmother, Wanda Smith; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday in Wood Funeral Home, 784 Main St., East Aurora. Burial in Oakwood Cemetery, East Aurora, will be private.