The men’s basketball team here at Terrace is honoring the late Mountlake Terrace Mayor Jerry Smith, who was a longtime supporter of youth programs in Mountlake Terrace and throughout Snohomish County. The players on the team will wear patches with the initials “JS” throughout the rest of the 2018-2019 season to honor Smith’s memory and lasting impact, as he died in his sleep in his home on Dec. 14.
Smith was always supportive of the MTHS sports teams, and especially of Terrace’s basketball and football programs. MTHS men’s basketball coach Nalin Sood was deeply close with Smith, who he had known since childhood.
“I’m a product of the youth programs and opportunities that Smith made available,” Sood said. “Mayor Smith truly represented the best of Mountlake Terrace.”
Smith had a huge impact on Sood’s life while he was in the sixth grade, when Smith provided him an opportunity to play soccer in Europe. For that and the multitude of other opportunities that Smith made available to Sood and others like him, Sood and his family feel deeply indebted to the Smiths. Smith, even long before his term as mayor of the city, played a key role in securing opportunities for young people across south Snohomish County.
In addition to the connection that Sood and Smith had through sports programs, the two men also had a deep personal connection, owing itself to a long friendship between the Sood and Smith families.
“I would describe Mayor Smith as humble, service-oriented, kind, generous and overall a perfect example of how to live your life,” Sood said. “He dedicated himself to the community and never cared who got the credit.”
Smith made a habit of attending as many Terrace sports games as possible, including nearly every men’s basketball game. The Smiths would often travel to the playoff games when the Hawks made it and even traveled to watch the Hawks play during their recent plays for the championship in Tacoma and Yakima.
“I still see Mayor Smith sitting in the front row of the bleachers at every basketball game,” Sood said.
Smith went out of his way to give opportunities to youth athletes in the ares, especially at MTHS. One of these opportunities was work for the Tour de Terrace event, which Smith founded in 1993 as a Seafair-sanctioned summer festival.
“Every summer, Smith would give Terrace athletes the opportunity to volunteer with Tour de Terrace,” Sood said. “He always tried to take them out to lunch and get to know them.”
Above all, Smith was a deeply civic-oriented individual who dedicated his life to public service. As a Mountlake Terrace resident for 50 years, Smith made a positive, profound and lasting impact on the whole of Snohomish County.
Deeply involved in the area, Smith also held leadership roles on the leadership boards of Community Transit, Snohomish County 911 and the Snohomish County Emergency Radio System. Additionally, Smith was essential in securing unanimous approval by the city council for the Town Center plan in 2007 that laid out a plan to develop the city center, despite its initially high levels of controversy.
“Mayor Smith wielded a tremendous amount of power for a long time, but he never paraded it around,” Smith said. “He always used his position for the benefit of others in the community.”
Smith was an integral part of the Mountlake Terrace community, having been the mayor since 2004 and a member of the city council since 2001. He is the longest serving mayor in the history of Mountlake Terrace, having been elected seven times by seven different city councils, serving a total of 15 years at the head of the city.
He is survived by his wife Judi, his son Scott and daughter-in-law Tisa, grandson Michael Riser and granddaughter Samatha Costello. Smith was preceded in death by his daughter Stephanie.
Smith was succeeded as mayor by Kyoko Matsumoto Wright, the previous mayor pro-tem, elected by the Mountlake Terrace City Council along with Smith in early 2018. A memorial for Smith was held on Jan. 25 in Edmonds’ Westgate Chapel and was attended by several hundred grieving community members.
“Mountlake Terrace, and all of Snohomish County, is a better place because of the work of Mayor Smith,” Sood said.