The town of Deep River is mourning the loss of longtime First Selectman Dick Smith after he died unexpectedly Friday.
Richard "Smitty" Smith, 65, held the position of First Selectman in the town for the past 26 years. He took the position after graduating from the Municipal Police Training Academy in 1973 and serving as a member of the town Democratic Committee, according to his obituary.
In a statement issued by the Town Hall, " the Town of Deep River has suffered a terrible loss in the passing of First Selectman Dick Smith. The town has lost a leader of over 26 years, the community has lost a friend and we are saddened beyond words..."
Fellow Selectman Angus McDonald tells NBC Connecticut that Smith left a special mark on the town.
“No one will fill those shoes. Those shoes will remain empty. We certainly need to move on but no one should try to fill those shoes. No one will.”
Residents say Smith was a smart, generous, caring man who went above and beyond for his town.
“He was everywhere, everywhere,” said Deep River resident Lori Hebert. “He did the street sweeping, he did the plowing, he did anything, anything anybody needed. He was part of the town.”
The city will hold a candlelight vigil in Smith's memory on Monday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall.
Calling house will be held at the Town Hall on Tuesday, March 29 from 5-8 p.m. The funeral will be held on Wednesday at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Chester at 11 a.m.
The Deep River Town Hall will be closed from noon on Tuesday until 8 a.m. Thursday.
Smith is survived by his daughter and son and was predeceased by his wife Carol Smith.