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Community Room dedicated to Francis Smith


AMHERST - It's been nearly four years since Constable Francis Smith passed away.

Family and friends celebrated his life Wednesday night during a celebration that dedicated the community room at the new Amherst Police Station in his honour.

"Francis meant different things to each of us. He was a father, a husband, a brother, a co-worker, and, I feel I'm safe in saying, he was a friend to all of us," said Police Chief Ian Naylor, while choking back tears.

Smith, a 33-year veteran of the force, was the Community Policing officer with the Amherst Police Department before he passed away in December of 2011, at the age of 56.

"It was in January of 2000 when Francis was appointed Amherst's first community policing officer. There was no manual or guide for him, no pre-existing programs," said Naylor. "He had to start from scratch. It turns out he was the perfect guy for the job and the job was perfect for him."

Smith's daughter, Laura, was at the ceremony. She agrees with Naylor.

"Dad is my hero. If I could be half of who he was and have the giving part of who he was, I think I'm doing OK," said Laura. "He loved his community and the people in this community. In his free time he was often trying to help somebody. It was his life and his passion."

Smith's son, Vince, was also at the ceremony.

"He really loved his work and I think it showed," said Vince.

Both Smith's kids say it was interesting having a dad who was the Community Policing officer in Amherst.

"Everyone knew who he was, and, at the same time, I knew I couldn't act up too much because everyone knew I was his son," said Vince.

Both Laura and Vince were impressed with the plaque that was unveiled during the ceremony.

"Dad was a people person and the plaque pays tribute to exactly who he was," said Laura.

Vince said the inclusion of photos on the plaque gives it a more personal feel.

"It gives people an insight on what he did on a daily basis and the people he worked with and how he was appreciated, in comparison to a brass plaque where you don't really get to know the person."

Vince and Laura's mom, Barb Smith, said, "It's a beautiful tribute. They couldn't have done any better in my opinion."

Const. Tom Wood replaced Smith as the Community Policing officer for Amherst, and Barb is very impressed with the work Wood has done.

"Francis would be so proud that he took it and kept it going," said Barb. "I told Tom not to worry about anything Francis has done. Just keep everything that's been done going forward, and then you've done a good job."

Vince echoed his mom's words.

"I know dad would have been really impressed with how Tom filled his role."

All three say they're happy Francis isn't forgotten.

Barb lives in New Glasgow and wondered if people would still remember him.

"It's nice they still remember him four years on."

"It's nice to know he's not forgotten," added Vince. "He seems to still be held in high regard in the community."

Laura was happy to be surrounded by family and friends at the Amherst Police Department Wednesday night.

"The people here have been a huge part of our family for many years, so it's great to be here," said Laura. "We feel closer to dad when we're here."

      

Family and friends celebrated his life Wednesday night during a celebration that dedicated the community room at the new Amherst Police Station in his honour.

"Francis meant different things to each of us. He was a father, a husband, a brother, a co-worker, and, I feel I'm safe in saying, he was a friend to all of us," said Police Chief Ian Naylor, while choking back tears.

Smith, a 33-year veteran of the force, was the Community Policing officer with the Amherst Police Department before he passed away in December of 2011, at the age of 56.

"It was in January of 2000 when Francis was appointed Amherst's first community policing officer. There was no manual or guide for him, no pre-existing programs," said Naylor. "He had to start from scratch. It turns out he was the perfect guy for the job and the job was perfect for him."

Smith's daughter, Laura, was at the ceremony. She agrees with Naylor.

"Dad is my hero. If I could be half of who he was and have the giving part of who he was, I think I'm doing OK," said Laura. "He loved his community and the people in this community. In his free time he was often trying to help somebody. It was his life and his passion."

Smith's son, Vince, was also at the ceremony.

"He really loved his work and I think it showed," said Vince.

Both Smith's kids say it was interesting having a dad who was the Community Policing officer in Amherst.

"Everyone knew who he was, and, at the same time, I knew I couldn't act up too much because everyone knew I was his son," said Vince.

Both Laura and Vince were impressed with the plaque that was unveiled during the ceremony.

"Dad was a people person and the plaque pays tribute to exactly who he was," said Laura.

Vince said the inclusion of photos on the plaque gives it a more personal feel.

"It gives people an insight on what he did on a daily basis and the people he worked with and how he was appreciated, in comparison to a brass plaque where you don't really get to know the person."

Vince and Laura's mom, Barb Smith, said, "It's a beautiful tribute. They couldn't have done any better in my opinion."

Const. Tom Wood replaced Smith as the Community Policing officer for Amherst, and Barb is very impressed with the work Wood has done.

"Francis would be so proud that he took it and kept it going," said Barb. "I told Tom not to worry about anything Francis has done. Just keep everything that's been done going forward, and then you've done a good job."

Vince echoed his mom's words.

"I know dad would have been really impressed with how Tom filled his role."

All three say they're happy Francis isn't forgotten.

Barb lives in New Glasgow and wondered if people would still remember him.

"It's nice they still remember him four years on."

"It's nice to know he's not forgotten," added Vince. "He seems to still be held in high regard in the community."

Laura was happy to be surrounded by family and friends at the Amherst Police Department Wednesday night.

"The people here have been a huge part of our family for many years, so it's great to be here," said Laura. "We feel closer to dad when we're here."

      

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