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Local man has spread his many talents around community

Dec. 10, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

PROCTORVILLE, Ohio -- Bob Smith is making a career of retiring.

Smith, 74, retired last week as director of the Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce. His earlier retirement gigs included 26 years in the U.S. Army reserves, leaving as a lieutenant colonel, and news anchor at WSAZ-TV in Huntington.

During his career, Smith also had a two-year stint in the U.S. Army, served as a teacher at Ohio University-Southern, worked at WOWK-TV (formerly WHTN) and worked at radio stations in Ashland and Logan, among others. He also helped raise $5 million for Ohio University-Southern.

"He's old school in the best way," said his daughter Sherri Smith. "He is a man of dignity. He refused to do a story about bikini clad women participating in a car wash in 1973." "He never forgot where he came from," she said. "When he worked at the television station, we couldn't see him till almost midnight. We became night owls. We would sit down and watch Johnny Carson together."

She was among several family members attending the chamber's monthly membership luncheon Friday at Ohio University Proctorville Center.

"To us he was 'Bud,'" said Lois Merritt, his sister. "I am very, very proud of him. He's a man of God."

While he retired Friday after serving the chamber for the past four years as director, Smith still is seen on local television in ads for a local Toyota dealership. He worked about 10 years at WSAZ and about 10 years for WOWK and four years at a Logan radio station before being hired in 1967 at WHTN.

He did the weather for a year before joining the news department in 1970 in time to cover the Marshall University plane crash. He later served as news director and assignment director before moving to the anchor desk and doing the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts. His dulcet tones were first hears before to Tri-State residents when he worked at an Ashland radio station in 1960.

Smith has done a fine job at the chamber, increasing membership, establishing the annual Spotlight dinner which raises funds for local scholarships and established the Monday Morning Mix, a weekly newsletter mailed out to local chamber members, said Bill Dingus, chamber executive director.

The chamber also will be paying for a retirement vacation for Smith and his wife, Billie, at one of 12 locations around the globe.

"We'll have a family conference to decide where we want to go," Billie Smith said.

"I knew they were planning something, but not to this extent," Bob Smith said. "I'm in a state of shock. I just appreciate what everyone is doing. I've worked at a lot of good places over the years. Everyone at the chamber worked as a team. They work to get the job done."

Bob "Bud" Smith

Age: 74

Hometown: Proctorville, Ohio

Occupation: Director of Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce, former news anchor at WSAZ-TV and WOWK-TV

Education: Huntington High School and Marshall University

Favorite book: the Bible