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Longtime county official honored

Family members of the late John Smedley sit on a new park bench placed in his memory on he bank of the South Fork of the Shenandoah River at Eastham Park on Friday in Front Royal. Smedley was the commissioner of revenue for Warren County for twenty-four years. Included in the photo are (from left) Melissa Smedley, daughter-in-law, grandson Wesley, 13, wife Doris Smedley, grandson Chase Turner, 2, granddaughter Diane Smedley, 15, and daughter Desiree in back.

Smedley has riverside park bench dedicated in his memory

By Alex Bridges

FRONT ROYAL -- Warren County officials, friends and family of the late John H. Smedley Sr. honored the longtime elected official on Friday.

Smedley served as the county's commissioner of the revenue from 1988 until his unexpected death in August.

More than a dozen family members, friends and colleagues attended the dedication of a bench installed along the trail at Eastham Park. A plaque will be installed in the near future, said County Administrator Douglas Stanley. The bench is one of four planned along the trail and the South Fork of the Shenandoah River.

"John was a committed servant of Warren County and worked hard for the taxpayers of the county," Stanley told the crowd. "He would go the extra mile to help the public that he served. In particular John looked out to the elderly and less fortunate in our community in making sure they were aware of the benefits of the tax relief for the elderly program."

Page County Commissioner of the Revenue Charles S. Campbell spoke of his longtime friend and fellow constitutional officer. Campbell described his friend as "quite a talker" and the men often had to travel across the state for business. The two men worked together for 30 years.

"After 30-some years you get to know someone when you're that close," Campbell said. "Rest assured, and I mean this very sincerely, John was full of it. John was really full of it.

"When I say full of it, John was full of love," Campbell said.

Campbell recalled that Smedley often showed their fellow officers photographs of his family including their cats. But Campbell echoed Stanley's remark about Smedley's support for local taxpayers.

"Wherever we were in the Commonwealth of Virginia you had a voice in John Smedley, because he dearly loved this community," Campbell said.

"With this bench that we're dedicating here today, hopefully that the people of this community that he loved so dearly will comfort, peace and joy, and also those people that utilize it will be as full of what John was -- with love," Campbell added.

Smedley's widow Doris stood at the dedication with family members. Asked whether she wanted to make any remarks, Doris Smedley at first declined but then changed her mind.

"I do have something to say: Go Redskins," Doris Smedley said, referring to her husband's favorite football team.

Stanley lauded the generosity of the West Central District of the Commissioners of the Revenue Association of Virginia to allow for the purchase of the bench.

Stanley recalled coming up with the idea of dedicating the bench after the organization sought a way to honor Smedley and the administrator had earlier received requests for the county to install benches along the trail and the river.

Smedley served in the constitutional office for seven terms. He also served as a member of the Virginia Association of Assessing Officers, the Commissioner of the Revenue Association of Virginia, the Virginia Association of Local Elected Constitutional Officers, the West Central Commissioner of Revenue Association, the Virginia Association of Local Tax Auditors, the Izaak Walton League, the Warren County Republican Committee, and as a past member of the Rotary Club of Front Royal and the Front Royal-Warren County Jaycees.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com


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