Column: Words Can’t Express Just How Loved Tim Smith Was (and Is)

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Jan 232020

The town of Orange has been reeling from the news of Tim’s passing and everyone had something to share. 

Tammy Trantales, from the Zoning Office, said she just saw Tim last week when he stopped by and they had a lovely chat. “He was planning on retiring in 6 years after his girls got out of college,” she said. “He was such a wonderful man, always pleasant and kind and he had a terrific smile.”

Zoning Enforcement Officer, Paul Dinice, an avid fly fisherman was Tim’s fishing buddy. 

He said, “His passing is a great loss to the town. I personally remember all of the good times we shared (fishing) and I will always treasure those moments with him.”

Selectman Mitch Goldblatt described Smith as a town official, a father and a friend. Stating, It’s a great loss to our community.

Goldblatt said, “He was certainly a professional in everything he did. He was respected by fire departments across the state, and an asset to the community with his knowledge of drones and for getting grants for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to distribute at no cost to Orange residents.”

He continued, “Tim was always smiling and looked at the positive side of everything. He was friendly with everybody. I was privileged to be his friend. Our daughters played field hockey at Amity together and he was at every game. His daughters were his pride and joy. He was a wonderful father who loved his daughters so much.” 

Emergency briefing 2012

Others, who passed through the Fire Marshal’s office for one reason or another also recalled their last encounters with Tim. 

Marianne Miller of the Orange Lions Club stopped by last week to get a permit for the upcoming Wine Tasting fundraiser.

She, like Trantales, said, “He was the sweetest man. He always had time for you when you needed him and he was always so professional in everything he did.” She added, “He was so young, it’s a great loss to the town. I feel so sad for his daughters and everyone who knew him.”

Tim at a fire scene (pre drone era)

Orange resident Denise Mirto, a real estate agent and Tim’s friend said she was shocked by the news and recounted how she’d seen him in his office on Friday. “We discussed business first, then he told me all about his daughters and what they’ve been doing. He was such a wonderful man. This is such a loss to the whole town, he’ll be sorely missed.”

First Selectman Jim Zeoli echoed what everyone else has been saying. He said, “Tim was such an important part of the community. I’ve known him for more than 30 years, and it hurts to lose him in such a tragic way. I feel so bad for his daughters, but it is great seeing the fire department rallying around them.”


On a personal note, I met Tim 25 years ago when I was first hired at the Amity Observer newspaper. Annie Davis was his secretary, and Jamie Vincent was (and still is) the Deputy Fire Marshal.

Drone Training Jul 13, 2017

As a rookie reporter without a clue, Tim always made my job easy. Over the years he included me in countless events. “Jump in the truck,” he’d say and he’d bring me to a fire demonstration at UNH, or a drone training session at Old Tavern ballpark, even tagging along for the emergency operations during Hurricane Sandy.

After a fire call I would wait an hour or two, and then I’d call Tim for a comment. He would always answer the phone or call back immediately. He was so accommodating. After I had a couple of strokes 10 years ago, Tim knew that I had issues with comprehension and concentration and he would work with me until he knew I had everything I needed for a story.

Another thing about Tim is that he loved dogs. When I had my golden retriever, Baron, I’d let him off-leash and he’d make a bee-line for Tim’s office where he was greeted with open arms. Tim, of course would be wearing dark pants, which were a magnet for Baron’s fur. Although I’d warn him, he’d still call the dog over to his side of the desk and rough house with him.

The same went for my little Sapsaree, Mi Sun, she really doesn’t shed (she has hair, not fur) but she adored Tim and he’d treat her like one of his own.

Tim was an amazing woodworker, he made the most beautiful toy trucks, and custom pens. He was always willing to help when someone needed assistance. I am lucky enough to have a piece from his workshop. Several years ago, someone unwittingly destroyed an antique shelving unit. I knew he did woodworking and asked if he could help fix it. I gave him a box with dozens of splintered, impossible to match pieces of wood. Wide-eyed, he looked at the pile, and said, “no problem.” In a couple of weeks, he called and asked me to come to his office, where he presented me with my beautiful scroll-sided family heirloom, this time painted white. He said it didn’t look very pretty with natural wood stain  anymore, but it was solid.  I proudly hung the shelves on my living room wall, and now it has an even deeper meaning for me.

Tim had an amazing sense of humor, and he was a great storyteller. Here is a video that I shot during Fire Inspector Cliff Burns’ retirement party three years ago that shows off Tim’s delightful personality. If I recall correctly, the gift Tim gave Cliff was one of his custom-made wood pens. 

Tim, you were really something special, one of a kind. We already miss you.