Hank Smith

Hank Smith in Bluff, Utah in 2015.  (Courtesy photo)

Hank Smith died at home in Bluff, Utah on August 14, 2020, six years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. He was 75. Born on Long Island, New York Sept. 13, 1944. His family lived in Queens, New York until his high school years, which were spent in Monroe, Connecticut. 

An activist in the 1960s, he dropped out of university just short of a degree in engineering to continue advocacy for an end to the Vietnam War. After a period of years living in a collective in upstate New York, Hank headed west to Los Angeles where he planned to attend the Peoples College of Law. While traveling through Colorado, he stopped to visit a poet friend living in the mountain community of Ward near Boulder. That stop marked the beginning of an unexpected, some would even say unlikely, and lengthy career in law enforcement. 

After a little over a year as town marshal in Ward, Hank accepted the position of Chief Marshal in Telluride, Colorado until his resignation 10 years later in 1988 to pursue other opportunities. For the following year he worked part-time for the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator. To anyone who knew him well, it was not surprising that his hands-on approach to small community law enforcement drew him back to the work he loved and the place he called home — the high mountains of the West Slope of Colorado. He accepted the job as Chief of Police in Mount Crested Butte, Colorado where he remained until retiring 23 years later in 2013.

Hank will be remembered by fellow officers and the communities he served as eminently approachable with an infectious smile, an easy way with words, and love for a protracted legal discussion. He was a compassionate peace officer who believed that every individual needed to be met on a human basis. His friends and family will remember him as a loving, gentle man who worked a bit too much, had a penchant for adventure sports — parachuting, whitewater rafting, open sea diving — and who jumped at any excuse for a walk in the high country which offered an opportunity for an afternoon nap under a tall pine. 

Hank is survived by his wife of 38 years, Bev Kier-Smith. Their blended family includes children Steve, Melissa, and Jehana; nine grandchildren Shawn Paul, Randy, Caitlyn, Jeremy, Sarah, Zach, Brenna, Brandy, and Zoe; and two great grandchildren Lacy and Shawn Jeremy. He is also survived by his older sister, Barbara Isabelle, and younger brother, George Smith, as well as numerous nieces and nephews. 

Hank would not want his friends and family to risk gathering together during the current pandemic. Please remember him with good stories and many smiles. He would love it if you were to plant a tree or nap under a sheltering shade tree in his memory. His ashes will be scattered on Sunshine Mesa, where he and Bev were married, in late fall 2020 or early next spring.