Charles R. “Chuck” Smith passed away at his Brooksville home on Sunday, January 3, 2021. He was 92.
The former County Commissioner and member of the Florida House of Representatives focused on Florida’s agricultural issues and personally addressed issues in the farming community. Later in his career, eggs became a focal point. The present Board of County Commissioners remembered Chuck at the beginning of the regular meeting on January 12.
Born in 1928 in Webster, Florida, Smith joined the Air Force after his high school graduation. When his tour of duty was complete, he studied Agriculture at the University of Florida, and was a member of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. He graduated from UF in 1953, and was offered a position as an Assistant County Extension Agent in Citrus County. He later moved to Bristol, FL in Liberty county, where he worked as County Agent before returning to Hernando County.
Chuck’s daughter, Linda Chatman told us, “He was all about his community and service and doing what was right for the environment, particularly agriculture and water resources. Those were just ingrained in him.”
As an Agent, he worked hands-on in Hernando and Liberty counties, helping rural communities to battle hog cholera and improve their swine herds. In 1967, Smith became the General Manager of the Hernando Egg Cooperative, where he promoted the use and sale of eggs.
Smith was elected to the Hernando County Commission in 1966 and served 12 years. In 1978 he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives, where he served until 1992.
A member of the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame, his biography includes a quote from former House member Everett Kelly, who said, “I helped and opposed Chuck Smith on many issues, but there was never any doubt that if you attacked agriculture he would be your worst enemy.”
Quite possibly hyperbole by Kelly, who passed away in 2018, the “worst enemy” part didn’t seem to apply to anyone Chuck had contact with. Smith and Kelly, both inducted into the House in 1978 were hardly enemies. “They were both really good friends. But you know, Daddy came up in the time when you could disagree and still like each other … He would be at a meeting arguing about something and then go out to dinner with or go play golf with you.”
Linda told us that her dad ran businesses following his retirement from the House, and returned to the egg industry to become the executive director for the Florida Poultry Federation. Once again marketing eggs throughout the state, he also served omelette breakfasts and taught the audience how to make omelettes.
A few of many awards he received included a Ten-Year Service Award from the Florida Poultry Federation In 1989. The same year, he was named Legislator of the Year by the Florida Farm Bureau. In 1995 he received the Agriculture Volunteer of the Year Award from the Hillsborough County Cooperative Extension Service.
Chuck retired in his 70s, only because his eyesight began to deteriorate due to macular degeneration. “Otherwise, he would still be working,” Linda laughed.
When not at work, Chuck was an avid golfer and fisherman. Linda laughed at the times Chuck would hurl a golf club skyward after a failed shot. And of course, he loved the University of Florida Gators.