Hamlet Smith

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Daily Press
October 27, 1993

SMITH, FORMER POLICE CAPTAIN

Former Williamsburg Police Department Capt. Hamlet B. Smith, 86, died Monday, Oct. 25. He retired in 1972 after 34 years with the department.

In 1964, Capt. Smith was the Williamsburg Exchange Club’s first “Policeman of the Year” recipient. At the time he was a sergeant and had been with the department for 25 years.

He joined the Williamsburg Police Department in 1938 as a patrolman. He and the late Chief William H. Kelly made up the entire force until the early years of World War II when the department was expanded. In 1952 he was promoted to sergeant and in 1964 he became the department’s first lieutenant. He was also the first captain on the Williamsburg force.

Andy Rutherford, Capt. Smith’s son-in-law and an ex-Williamsburg police chief, remembers him as being a police officer who often looked for solutions to people’s mistakes rather than putting them in jail.

“He always had other people’s interests at heart. He was good to everyone, he did a lot of things for kids. I think he truly understood people,” said Rutherford.

The native of Ware Neck was a graduate of Botetourt High School. Following graduation he joined the Merchant Marine and became a third officer. In an interview with the Daily Press in 1989, Capt. Smith said it was this experience that was the turning point in his life. “When I was third officer on a ship in 1927,” he said, ” we nearly got lost at sea. That sure changed my mind about a seafaring career!”

Following his stint with the Merchant Marine he worked as a special police officer at Eastern State Hospital and as assistant funeral director with Bucktrout Funeral Service.

In his younger days, Capt. Smith’s favorite hobby was building houses. In fact, he provided each of his children with a piece of land and assisted them in building their homes. He also built and owned the W&M Restaurant, now known as “The Short Stop.”

A daughter, Betty Harris, said her dad “looked after his family first. He was the sweetest man in the world. We never had to worry about anything, he was always there to help us out. We respected him so much; we behaved to please him.”

Over the years Capt. Smith and his wife, Gladys, who died in 1965, often provided a home away from home for many College of William and Mary students. During World War II they also opened their home to numerous young couples serving in the armed forces.

Capt. Smith was an avid fisherman. He was a former member of the Williamsburg Lions Club, a licensed pilot and a member of Williamsburg United Methodist Church.

He is survived by a son, Charles E. Smith of Williamsburg; three daughters, Sally Smith Rutherford, Betty Smith Harris and Donna Smith Byrd of Williamsburg; three sisters, Margaret Stevens of Norge, Jeannette Gill of Ware Neck and Alice Barham of Wendell, N.C.; two half sisters, Doris Buch of Mechanicsville and Marge Fischer of Beverly, Mass; 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 7 to 8 tonight at Bucktrout Funeral Home. A funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at Williamsburg United Methodist Church by the Rev. Doug Wilson. Burial will be in Cedar Grove Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to the James City County Rescue Squad, 5077 John Tyler Highway, Williamsburg 23185; Emergency Medical Services, 412 N. Boundary St., Williamsburg 23185; or the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 323, Williamsburg 23187.

Arrangements are by Bucktrout Funeral Home.