Former Mineola Mayor Edward S. Smith, a longtime community and governmental leader in North Hempstead and Nassau County, died Sunday at his lakefront home in Winsted, Connecticut, after being bedridden for two months.
Smith's son Matthew, a prominent Long Island real estate appraiser, said his father died of "old age." Ed Smith was 92.
Smith, a staunch Republican, was active in local politics for more than three decades, serving as Mineola's mayor from about 1975 to 1985 after 10 years as the village's deputy mayor, his son said. A residential real estate developer and commercial broker, Smith went on to serve as vice chairman of the North Hempstead Board of Zoning Appeals and as a member of the Nassau Assessment Review Commission.
In his community, Smith was president of the Mineola Lions Club, which was renamed "The Edward Smith Mineola Lions Club" in 2000 to reflect his 60 years of fundraising and membership. His son said the small club raises $50,000 to $75,000 annually to assist people who are blind.
Smith was active in the Church of St. Aidan in Williston Park, where he was a charter member of the parish council.
"Ed Smith is one of the giants from the Town of North Hempstead," said North Hempstead Republican leader Frank Moroney. "He was a professional who knew his business. He was a great guy. He was very generous and very available for whatever advice you may need, whether professional or political. He was just top shelf."
Smith's son said that his father helped Democratic State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli get his start in politics on the Mineola school board in 1972 when DiNapoli, at that time, became New York's youngest elected official.
Despite his Republican roots, "my father got along with all the politicians," his son said.DiNapoli confirmed through an aide that Smith was "was extremely encouraging and supportive of his efforts when he ran for school board."
His son said Smith grew up in a large Irish family in Garden City, where he developed a sharp sense of humor. "He was a funny guy, a funny guy to go out and have a beer with."
During World War II, Smith drove a troop transport vehicle in Gen. George S. Patton's Third Army, his son said.
Ed Smith also was trained in Colorado to be a "ski trooper" so he could ski through colder areas in Russia, his son said. During the Korean War, Smith was recalled to help build bridges in that conflict, his son said.
In 1949, Smith founded Edward S. Smith & Co., which specialized in real estate development on Long Island. The company subdivided tracts of land in Mineola and built many of the village's Cape Cod-style homes. After marrying his wife, Evelyne, Smith moved his new family into one of those Mineola homes, where they lived until he retired to Connecticut around 2003, his son said.
In 1955, Smith established Smith & DeGroat Real Estate, a commercial brokerage that Matthew Smith now runs. Smith also founded Pioneer Insurance Associates, which he sold in 1990.
In 2013, Smith lost his wife after 67 years of marriage.
In addition to his son Matthew of Dix Hills, survivors include sons Mark of Columbia, Missouri, and Edward of Newtown, Connecticut; nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Viewing will be Thursday, 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at Weigand Brothers funeral home in Williston Park. A Roman Catholic Mass will be celebrated Friday at 10 a.m. in St. Aidan's, followed by burial at Cemetery of the Holy Rood in Westbury.