Masons honor Harold Smith
May 12, 2009 · 12:11 PM
ARLINGTON — The best of public servants who is a hero to many, Harold Smith was honored by friends and family May 9 when the Arlington Masons named him Outstanding Citizen of the Year.
During the program, Smith sat next to his old friend, Howard A. Christianson, the namesake of the Mason’s annual award, and it was Christianson’s son, Craig, who shared the honoree’s biography.
The two attended Arlington schools together and Craig couldn’t resist the temptation to remember some of the fun they had, including a high speed trip to Everett that landed Smith in jail, and the rolling of golf balls down Olympic Hill.
Harold Smith graduated in 1968 and his first real job, other than delivering newspapers was at the Arlington Hardware Store. He worked in the lumberyard, and due to his proximity to the fire station, he was quickly recruited as a volunteer fireman, Craig Christianson said.
After his first training for medics, they called him Dr. Smith.
Smith served as a medic for Arlington since the early 1970s and is so well-known in the community that the elders around town look for him to arrive first when they call for aid.
“If, heaven forbid, I must call the ambulance for any matter, I would hope that Harold would be the first through the door,” said Ray McClure, last year’s honoree.
McClure wasn’t the only one who expressed similar sympathies.
Mayor Margaret Larson shared stories about living across the street from Smith.
“He made it clear to all of us in the neighborhood that we should call him first. That would be tabu these days,” the mayor said, describing Harold as the best of public servants.
“It’s people like Harold who make Arlington special,” Larson said.
Cary Stuart spoke on behalf of the many firefighters in the room.
“Harold is a big part of the reason I decided to be a firefighter,” Stuart said.
“I came to Arlington for it’s career volunteer firefighter program,” Stuart said.
“When I first started, I was leery of Harold because he was always the center of attention,” Stuart said.
It wasn’t until seven years later in a shift juggle that Stuart found out why everyone loved Harold.
“He taught me to do good things for the community,” Stuart said.
“He shared his passion for Arlington and showed me what it means to be good family man.”
Smith married his wife Polly in 1969 and they had five children. Now they have 14, maybe 15 grandchildren. (The fifteenth was due May 9 on the day of the Mason’s event.)
Firefighter John Jacobson illustrated more of Smith’s virtues, expounding on his heroic rescue of a swimmer in trouble in the river, and the manor fire of 1998.
“Harold almost died trying to rescue that swimmer,” Jacobson said. “He almost died trying to rescue the residents in the manor.”
Although Smith denied being any more a hero than the rest of the team, he admitted it felt good to be honored.
“This award validates what Dad has told us through the years,” said his son, Joel Smith.
“You didn’t just tell us, but you did it. You’ve earned this award 1,000 times over,” Joel told his father in front of the crowd.
Upon receiving the award, Smith thanked his friends, his family and his wife.
“She is the one who encouraged me to get medic training. She is the one who allowed me to cry on her shoulder,” Harold Smith said.