Smith helps community ‘do a good turn’

Published 11:45 pm Friday, June 17, 2016

“First, let me ask: Is there anyone here who doesn’t know Dan Smith?”

That’s how Troy City Councilman Marcus Paramore began his introduction of the 2016 Golden Eagle Dinner honoree on Thursday night.

“There are a lot of things we can say about Dan … but he is one of the most humble people you’ll ever know in your life,” Paramore continued. “And he will try any way possible to get out of getting an award.”

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Lucky for us – and the Boy Scouts of America – Dan couldn’t avoid the Golden Eagle honor this year.

The longtime director of Troy Parks and Recreation was selected for the honor in part because of his extensive involvement and dedication to the community. A 1981 graduate of (then) Troy State University, Dan went on to be Sports Editor here at The Messenger, where he was one of the most beloved sports writers we’ve ever had and, truthfully, we still tap his talents to help with special projects and sports events.

More than 20 years ago, he went to work for the Troy Parks and Recreation Department, working for the late Bo Gaylard and then eventually being named director of the department. Under his leadership, we’ve seen the construction of the Community Recreation Center, the creation of a walking and multi-use trail, and the creation of a Miracle League field and playground. Now, the TPRD encompasses the impressive Pike County Lake, as well.

Throughout it all, Dan Smith has remained a constantly kind, compassionate and focused volunteer and leader, earning the Pike County Chamber of Commerce’s Volunteer of the Year Award and the Troy Exchange Club’s Book of Golden Deeds award, as well as being named the ARPA Jim Spain Professional of the Year. And he has stayed true to a singular focus: providing recreational opportunities for the people of Troy and, through recreation, helping improve the lives of children in our community. “It’s not about making money; it’s about making a difference,” he said.

So the Boy Scout honor makes sense for Dan, who follows honorees like Sam Kitchens, Mayor Jimmy Lunsford, Troy Baseball Coach Mark Smartt and the late Hank Jones. And as Dan so succinctly pointed out, the tenets of the Scout Law – “A Scout is … trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent” are characteristics that serve everyone well in life, whether a Scout or a successful businessman.

“We have an obligation as adults to serve this community through whatever means may present itself,” Dan told the room full of business and civic leaders. “We need to be mentors to the young people here in this room and everywhere …”

And he’s right, of course. The young men in the room were the members of the Boy Scouts who helped host and coordinate the dinner. Two of the Scouts – Julian Graham and Douglas Topolse – were recognized for having achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, an impressive achievement that speaks volumes to anyone in or out of the Scouting ranks.

“I get resumes all the time at Troy Parks and Rec, and one of the things that stands out to me is anyone who has achieved the rank of Eagle Scout,” Dan said. “I know how hard you worked to get that.”

Having had a son who stopped one rank shy of that coveted Eagle Scout, I concur. It’s an impressive testament to dedication, self-discipline and, quite frankly, the support of parents, leaders and other adults who continue to encourage the teens even when they tire of the effort. And participating Boy Scouts truly can make a difference in young men’s lives, from elementary school to adulthood.

But as much as Thursday night’s dinner was about making a difference, it was also about making money ¬– money for the Boy Scouts, that is. The dinner raised $24,830, much of that given in honor of Dan.

Because, as anyone who knows Dan Smith will concur, a life dedicated to making a difference is a life well lived and a purpose well service.

So congratulations, once again, to 2016 Golden Eagle honoree Dan Smith and the dozens of patrons who helped honor him and support the Alabama Florida Council of the Boy Scouts of America. You did a good turn this week.

Stacy Graning is publisher of The Messenger. Follow her on Twitter