We were saddened to learn today of the passing of George T. Smith, accurately described by Jim Galloway as “the most versatile man in all of Georgia politics.”
George Thornewell Smith was born in Camilla, Mitchell County, Georgia on October 15, 1916. He attended Middle Georgia College and Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. In 1940, he joined the U.S. Navy, and after two years was placed on the Naval Land Force Equipment Depot. He left the military in 1945, and returned home. In 1948, he graduated from the University of Georgia Law School and went into private practice in Cairo, Georgia. He served as city attorney, county attorney, solicitor of the State Court, and attorney for the Grady County Board of Education.
In 1958, he was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives. In 1963, he was appointed speaker of the house. He successfully campaigned for lieutenant governor in 1966, but was defeated for reelection by Lester Maddox in 1970. Smith went into private practice in Marietta, Georgia, and made an unsuccessful run for governor in 1974. In 1976, he was elected to the Georgia Court of Appeals, and in 1980, he was elected Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court. Smith was the only man to serve in all three branches of the government – legislative, executive, and judicial. Until the time of his death, he served on the Executive Committee of the Appellate Judges Conference.
In 2009 the Russell Library and Bob Short interviewed Smith on his career in politics. In the interview Smith also talks at length about his service in World War II. The interview may be viewed here:
or via iTunesU at UGA (Reflections on Georgia Politics, program 89) here:
Post by Craig Breaden, Head of Media and Oral History, Russell Library