Howard Smith, a native and avid historian of Seneca County, died Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, at the age of 93. He was the oldest of seven children born to Mildred and Grover Smith at a farm on the South Greenfield Road within the square mile originally settled by the Schmitt ancestors in the 1840s. As a teenager, Smith worked on several Seneca County farms and graduated from Tiffin Columbia High School in 1938 where he lettered in football and excelled on the debate team.
Following time working and living in several Ohio communities and Oklahoma, Smith resided in the Cincinnati area for more than 40 years. During that time he worked for more than 30 years as a sales manager of the dry-cleaning products division of Emery Industries and vice president of its successor, Fabritec International. While at Emery and Fabritec, Smith was highly regarded in the garment and drapery-care industry and was a popular speaker at regional and national trade conventions. As a resident of Montgomery, northeast of Cincinnati, Smith was active in public service to the city and to the Sycamore School District. As president of the Montgomery City Council, he was widely recognized for his leadership in preserving both the residential character of the community and the historic central business area through the establishment of a planned development district.
In active retirement, Smith turned his energy to his real passions in farming and the late-19th entury history of the Tiffin area. He developed a prize-winning shorthorn cattle herd, initially in southern Ohio and more recently in partnership with Scott Rosenberger in Seneca County. Returning to Tiffin in 1993, Smith turned his long-time interest in local history into weekly columns for The Advertiser-Tribune, many of which were later collected and published by Historic Tiffin Inc. His strongest interests were related to the period 1856-1881, and he read every issue of Tiffin's two weekly newspapers from that time along with other primary sources. His research took him to archives at the Seneca County Historical Society Museum, the Tiffin-Seneca Public Library, The Advertiser-Tribune, the Ohio State Historical Society and Bowling Green State University. Smith also researched the exploits of brothers of Tiffin's Sheidley family who became western cattle barons in the late 1800s; that effort led him to museums and archives in Texas, Nebraska and Wyoming and the publication of another book.
Howard Smith was a strong advocate for preservation of Tiffin's historic legacy and supporter of the Seneca County Historical Society and the Tiffin-Seneca Public Library. Those wishing to honor his memory are encouraged to donate to the Seneca County Historical Society or the Tiffin-Seneca Public Library.
Howard Smith is survived by his sons Jay, of O'Fallon, Ill., and Gary, of Albuquerque, N.M.; along with grandson Alex Smith of Belleville, Ill.; and sisters Betty Bowman, of Tiffin, and Martha Weber, of Bellevue.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 51 years, Marjorie Dunteman Smith; and siblings, Helena Hiser, Irene Loy and Gilbert Smith of Tiffin and Arthur Smith of Fremont.
There will be services for Howard held at a later date with burial to be held at Greenlawn Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Tiffin-Seneca Public Library or to the Tiffin Historic Society. The Engle-Shook Funeral Home and Crematory in Tiffin is assisting the family with their arrangements.
Online condolences may be left for the family at www.engleshookfuneralhome.com.