Hundreds gather at wake for Deep River first selectman - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Hundreds gather at wake for Deep River first selectman

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Thousands gathered on Tuesday night in Deep River to honor a man who served his community for more than a quarter of a century. (WFSB) Thousands gathered on Tuesday night in Deep River to honor a man who served his community for more than a quarter of a century. (WFSB)
DEEP RIVER, CT (WFSB) -

Thousands gathered on Tuesday night in Deep River to honor a man who served his community for more than a quarter of a century.

It isn’t often that wakes are held at a town hall, but in Deep River it was probably the only place big enough to accommodate all of the people who wanted to say goodbye to Dick “Smitty” Smith, who served as the town’s selectman for 26 years.

Not only was he the town’s selectman, he was a town constable for three decades, but many people said he was so much more.

"People who were down on their luck financially, he would make sure they had food. There were people that couldn't afford home heating oil in the winter time and he would ensure one way or another that they had home heating oil,” said CT State Police Sgt. Robert Berry.

"He was just amazing. There's nobody here that's in this line that's wrapping around the whole town that he didn't know by name,” said Karen Sypher, who was one of Smith’s closest friends. "He is the second dad to my kids...he is Uncle Dick to my grandkids...he's family."

She said the last few days, after Smith’s sudden death from a heart attack, have felt like a bad dream.

"How can it feel real...you're expecting him to be here. You look to everybody and expect him to be here, it's surreal,” Sypher said.

In the end, nobody will forget the sidewalks he helped build, the statue he erected, and even his patrol car.

"He loved this town with all of his heart and now the town gets to show how much they love him as well,” Sypher said.

Smith was famous for driving snow plows and street sweepers around town, but less people probably know that he was the driving force behind an elephant statue in town. It honors Deep River’s past as the ivory capital of the world.

Smith’s funeral will take place on Wednesday at 11 a.m. at St. Joseph’s Church in Chester.

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