Tributes have been paid to a former Lord Mayor of Chester described as hardworking, key to the growth of liberalism in the city and a person who ‘always had a smile’.
Gordon Smith, who has died aged 75, represented Hoole for the Liberal Democrats on Chester City Council for more than 20 years.
Originally from Lancashire, Mr Smith lived with his wife Barbara in Canadian Avenue, Hoole. They have children Jenny and Duncan. He was a lifelong Bury FC supporter.
He had served as Lord Mayor of Chester in 1994-95 and had also been Sheriff of Chester in 1986-87.
Mr Smith stood as the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate in the 1992 general election, coming third when Gyles Brandreth was elected MP.
Former city and county councillor Sue Proctor said: “He was one of the first Liberals in Chester to get elected to the city council. He got elected at the end of the 1970s and I really believe it was his reputation in Hoole that helped others to win because people had heard what a good councillor Gordon was.”
Mrs Proctor, whose husband Graham is also an ex-Lib Dem city councillor, jumped the queue to become deputy mayor because her colleague Gordon was barred due to campaigning for the ‘92 election as the role is politically neutral. This meant she made history the following year in becoming the city’s first ever Lord Mayor when the title was bestowed on the city.
“He empathised with people brilliantly and people trusted him because he was an honest man,” added Mrs Proctor, who said her colleague was ‘popular’ and ‘everyone’ respected him. He was ‘positive and vibrant’ and ‘always had a smile’.
She said Mr Smith took a special interest in housing and environmental matters. He had been involved in a modernisation programme of terraced houses in Hoole.
Mr Smith, who had worked in the water industry, was also a member of the United Reformed Church in Hoole and a previous chairman of CLASP – Chester Lodging and Support.
Former Hoole councillor Bob Thompson said: “Gordon played a pivotal role in the growth of Liberalism and Liberal Democracy in his adopted city of Chester. He represented Hoole on the city council for over two decades and represented the city as Sheriff and later Lord Mayor.
“He was a hard working local councillor and many residents of Hoole have stopped me to express their sadness at this time and to share memories of the many causes and personal support he gave to individuals and the community of Hoole. He will be sadly missed.
“It is right at this time to grieve his passing but I think too we should celebrate the man. There is a photograph of Gordon in the town hall, taken in his prime, dressed in the Lord Mayor’s regalia. It is a good photograph and captures Gordon well: proud to be Lord Mayor, a handsome face smiles down, a welcoming face, someone you would enjoy talking to, someone who is genuinely interested in you and your concerns, a kind face.
“That was the Gordon I knew, a proud husband and father, a doughty fighter for those who had not been dealt the best of life’s cards, someone who stood up for his community. But also he enjoyed life, he laughed readily and infectiously, had bags of common sense and had a wealth of tales of past campaigns and doorstep conversations whilst electioneering.
“I mourn his passing but celebrate his life and achievements.”
His funeral takes place at Hoole United Reformed Church on Tuesday, April 25, from 12.30pm.