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Former WVPA President George Smith dead at 78

PARSONS, W.Va — Former  newspaper editor, co-publisher and a printer George A. Smith, Jr. died July 15, 2015 in Monongalia General Hospital, Morgantown.

George Smith
George Smith

Along with his wife, Mariwyn, he was co-owner of Preston County News in Terra Alta from 1961-1971, of The Parsons Advocate of Parsons from 1971 – 2004, and president and CEO of McClain Printing Company, also in Parsons,

Smith had suffered from several major illnesses for years.

A sideline project later in life, “Wood Art by George,” resulted in Smith being a regular supplier of art for Tamarack, known as “West Virginia’s Finest”, several arts and crafts stores including Buxton & Landstreet and The Christmas Shop of Thomas, and craft shows, and was one of the founders of Highland Art Gallery of Davis.

Smith was born in Kingston, NY, the only son of the late George Smith, Sr. and Victoria Louise Crawford Smith of Catskill, NY.

Two years after graduating from Catskill High School he enrolled in Davis & Elkins College in Elkins. He enjoyed saying, “I’m a New Yorker by birth, but a West Virginian by choice.”

Prior to entering college he worked for the last handset weekly newspaper in the state of New York, The Catskill Enterprise. He was in charge of commercial printing and newspaper production.  Also while in high school he hired a fellow student and they did commercial photo processing for three drug stores while also doing three other part-time jobs.

During his college years he was D&E’s first student photographer and worked on the college’s newspaper and yearbook staffs.  He joined Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity and remained friends with many of his brothers.  Smith and his wife, the former Mariwyn McClain of Parsons, whom he met at D&E, were married June 4, 1960 in Parsons Presbyterian Church, they lived for a short time in Catskill, then moved to Terra Alta, WV, where they purchased The Preston County News.  He also produced a total-market-coverage newspaper in Grafton, and did commercial printing in the evenings.

The News won numerous state and national awards, and he was elected as the youngest president of the West Virginia Press Association in 1979.

While in Terra Alta, Smith and a small group of businessmen purchased and began the development of Mountaintop Vacationland, which is now known as Alpine Lake.

During their ten years there, their three children were born. Kenneth and his wife, Bonnie Swyter live in Parsons where he is the third generation to be president of McClain Printing Company.  He is the father of Mrs. Ryan (Sarah) Roberts of Ft. Osan, South Korea, and Elizabeth Smith of Nashville, TN; and they include a niece, Mrs. Yoshitaka (Brandy Hipp) Nakamura of Kyoto, Japan; and two daughters, Mrs. Carl (Barbara) Plumley of Germantown, MD, and her sons, Elijah and Quinn Broaddus; and Mrs. Ken (Faith) Robinson of Enterprise, AL and daughter, Katelynn Faith.

Survivors also include six great-grandchildren, Isaac Wade, Owen Jacob and Connor Adrain Roberts; and Yusho Joshua, Shoya Joseph and Manna Joy Nakamura.

Also, George’s sister, Mrs. James E. (Linda) Stewart lives in Canton, Ms. His wife’s parents are the late Ken and Faith McClain of Parsons and of Zephyrhills, FL

Mr. Smith has been very active in his church and the communities where lived. He was ordained as an elder in Christ Church Presbyterian, Catskill, NY, at the age of 18; served as Clerk of Session in Terra Alta and Parsons, as well as  Sunday School Superintendent , and voting delegate at national General Assembly gatherings in New York City and in Texas. He served on the national John Knox Press Committee for eight years in Atlanta, GA, and was a delegate to the Synod.

George was master of Terra Alta Lodge 106 AF&AM, was a past president of Terra Alta Rotary and Parsons Kiwanis Clubs, Five Rivers Public Library Board of Directors, and of St, George Medical Clinic. He was a member of the Preston and Tucker County Planning Commissions. He had recently joined the Rotary Club of Tucker County.

He was a charter member of Parsons Revitalization Organization (PRO), of Parsons Community Association, vice president of Allegheny Highland Trail, Alpine Heritage Preservation, Inc., and a life member of WV Press Association.

He helped organize Heritage House Fine Arts and Crafts, and the purchase and revitalization of the Parsons Railroad Depot, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  He was chairman of the boards of both corporations..

George served on the board of directors of Mountain Valley Bank and the former First National Bank of Parsons, the Directors’ Loan Committee, the Audit and Compliance Committee and the Holding Committee. After having served 25 years, it became medically necessary for him to retire from the board and was honored by the board as Director Emeritus.

Woodworking played an important role in Smith’s very active “retirement” until he became seriously ill in 2012. He and his wife moved from Parsons to the retirement village behind Cortland Acres in Thomas after four stints in the nursing home and rehabilitation facility, and whenever possible he rode an electric Scooter from their home to Cortland. For more than a year George was lovingly cared for by Mountain Hospice, making it possible for him to return home.

Hinkle Funeral Home of Davis is in charge of arrangements with viewing to be held at the funeral home this Saturday, June 18, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m.  The funeral will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday, June 19 at Parsons Presbyterian Church in Parsons. Friends and family will gather following interment in Parsons City Cemetery for a luncheon.  The Rev. Mike Lantz will officiate. The family recommends donations be made to Tucker Community Foundation, P. O. Box 491, Parsons, WV 26287.

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