Former Manchester Alderman Smith honored at dedication
Alderman George Smith receives applause from Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, left, and New Hampshire State Senator Lou D'Allesandro while seated in a wheelchair next to his wife Ruthie. (Bruce Preston/Union Leader)
Former Alderman George Smith is congratulated by longtime friend Josephine Reilly shortly before a dedication ceremony of the George W. Smith Complex held at the Piscataquog River Park on Sunday. (Bruce Preston/Union Leader)
Former Alderman George Smith sits in front of a plaque at Piscataquog River Park. (Bruce Preston/Union Leader)
MANCHESTER — Friends, family, and members of the community gather Sunday to honor former alderman George Smith at the dedication of the George W. Smith Complex at the Piscataquog River Park.
“This park has always been a hole in the wall,” Smith said.
Smith's family traveled from all across New England for the unveiling of the bronze monument honoring his years of work for the park.
Smith championed the Piscataquog River Park for years, nurturing it into a complex of soccer and baseball fields, as well as the home of the Raco Theodore Pool. He fought to get the funding to expand it, and to restore it when the fields were damaged by floods.
Smith said he wanted to make sure there was a place for area children to play sports.
The park also has a number of nature trails that lead right down to the river, according to Smith.
“The river flows right down to the field,” he said. “It's a hidden jewel.”
Mayor Ted Gastas has dealt with Smith for years, often in regard to the park.
“He was always a big advocate for the park,” Gastas said.
Smith retired from the board of aldermen in 2010, after serving for eight years. He was instrumental not only in the development of the Piscataquog River Park, but also in the restoration of Gill Stadium, Gastas said.
“That was one of the first things he called me about,” he said.
State Sen. Lou D'Allesandro has known Smith, and his wife Ruthie, for close to 50 years. Their children even attended school together.
“These fields are a great opportunity for our youngsters for recreation,” D'Allesandro said.
Smith said he was first moved to get involved when his children were in Little League and could not play because of a lack of facilities in his area. Since then he has been able to secure a playing field for generations to come.
“This is a wonderful thing for the West Side,” D'Allesandro said.
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