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Nissequogue mayor counts Smithtown founder as family

From left, Glenn Williams, president of the Smithtown

From left, Glenn Williams, president of the Smithtown Rotary Club, and Richard Smith, 58, mayor of Nissequogue and a direct descendant of the founder of Smithtown, leave Butera's on Main Street in Smithtown. (March 18, 2013) (Credit: Brittany Wait)

Richard Smith, 58, mayor of Nissequogue, incorporated in 1926, is a direct descendant of Richard Smith, an Englishman who acquired and first settled in Smithtown in 1665. He also works as a commercial banker for the First National Bank.

Over lunch at Butera’s in Smithtown, Smith and Glenn Williams, president of the Rotary Club of Smithtown, happily discussed the history and atmosphere of the community.

Richard, how did having this strong historical family background influence you?

I have a natural interest in national and local history, but when I was 7 years old my father told me I was related to the founder of Smithtown and that did it for me. Since then, I’ve always had an appreciation for my family history. I’ve been on the board of the Smithtown Historical Society since 1987. I was president from 2001 to 2002.

Smithtown has a long history. What makes it standout?

The communitywide deep appreciation for its history, maritime recreational activities and the preserved natural environment and harbors. People aspire to move to Smithtown. The high quality of schools is sensational. It’s a wonderful area to live. I’ve lived here almost all my life and one of those places you don’t leave.

So, you must know about the legend behind the bull statue in Smithtown. Some believe it’s true. As a direct descendant of the man supposedly riding the bull to mark the territory of Smithtown, what do you think?

It’s a wonderful legend. I wouldn’t be surprised if my ancestor was called a bull rider. I think there might be some truth in that. All I know is that Brad Harris [the Town Historian] will probably try to get me to ride a bull at Smithtown’s 350th year anniversary in 2015.

Glenn, so you’re also president of Williams & Williams on Manor Road. I hear it has a long history of family ownership.

My grandfather George Rothwell started the business in 1928 in Brooklyn Heights and my father Aubrey Williams later moved the business to Smithtown in 1961. As you can see, it’s been in the family for quite some time.

And you said you’ve been with the rotary club for almost two years. What does the club bring to the community?

We’re very active in terms of supporting those in need, whether they’re families, local food pantries, organizations or charities. We just had the “Go for the Green” 5K on Saturday, which is our largest fundraiser of the year.

I know you live in Cold Spring Harbor, but your business is in Smithtown, so I’m curious what would you say you like most about the area?

Stony Brook Harbor. I’ve had several boats over the years and at one time used to live on the harbor and swim in it as a kid. It’s the only noncommercial harbor around. I love how the surrounding communities have worked hard to preserve its natural beauty.

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