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Hundreds pay tribute to Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith

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DEEP RIVER--If you live in Deep River, you knew First Selectman Dick "Smitty" Smith.

"He was just the best," said resident Michael Carroll, who teared up speaking about Smith. "The hardest-working, gentlest soul who always reminded me that Deep River people, we're scruffy and we're proud."

Smith, who served as mayor for nearly three decades, passed away on Good Friday.

"He really was a Democrat in the best sense of the word," said Carroll. "[He was] a mayor for all the people."

Hundreds of people came out to Deep River City Hall on Monday night to pay their respects to Smith at a candlelight vigil. Turnout was so high, police had to close roads and direct traffic around the area.

"He's the only selectman that I know of on the whole shoreline or in the state of Connecticut that got out of his car and picked up a shovel and gave you a hand," said Robert Jenkins, who worked with Smith for more than 20 years.

Smith's son, Richard, said his dad devoted his life to serving the people of Deep River. "Sundays, he got the street sweeper," said Smith. "[He] liked to go up and down, around town and wave to everybody. If there was a snow storm, he'd plow it."

Dick Smith was also a police officer for 43 years. His cruiser was draped in black bunting on Monday, and several people laid flowers on the windshield.

"He knew everybody by their name, and he cared about each one of them," said Smith.

The first selectman's friends said he is irreplaceable, and it would take 12 people to do everything he did.

"They won't be able to find anyone like Dick Smith," said Carroll.

Deep River Town Hall will be closed at noon on Tuesday and remain closed on Wednesday. Calling hours will be at the Town Hall on Tuesday, March 29 from 5-8 p.m. Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, March 30 at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Chester at 11 a.m.