Even if he didn’t knock or take a moment to say hello, Nadine Aubuchon Blaisdell always knew when Leroy Smith Jr. had arrived in the morning to pick up supplies for the day’s assignment.
“You would hear him laughing,” Blaisdell said, giving a small chuckle of her own. “He had an infectious laugh, and he was always in a good mood.”
It’s that laugh that Blaisdell will always remember. It was the fruit of the positive attitude that defined Smith, regardless of what was going on in his life. That laugh is perhaps what Blaisdell will miss most about her friend of more than 20 years.
“I talked to him Friday afternoon,” Blaisdell said. “â€˜Have a good weekend,’ he said.”
Police discovered the remains of the 56-year-old Smith in the woods near the Richmond Transfer Station off Lincoln Street. His son, 24-year-old Leroy Smith III, has been charged with murdering his father inside the apartment the men shared on Cannard Street in Gardiner and later moving the body to Richmond.
Leroy Smith III, who was arrested early Monday morning on a warrant on unrelated charges, provided Westbrook Police the information that ultimately led to the discovery of his father’s remains.
Friends on Tuesday remembered the elder Smith as a hard worker with a passion for life and music who helped make their lives better.
“He had the greatest laugh and gave the greatest hugs,” said friend Melissa Gray. “He loved to party and to be around people.”
She met Smith 15 years ago through a mutual friend. They quickly bonded over their shared loved of music. The two had even talked about forming a band.
“It was always something we talked about,” Gray said. “We always talked about music.”
Smith had taken his guitar playing casually before Jeremy Shirland met him in the spring of 2000, but by that point Smith was taking lessons to improve. Music grew to be a passion, Shirland said. The pair, along with a host of other friends and musicians, were regular performers at the regular open jam sessions at The Wharf in Hallowell.
Smith made himself into an accomplished player, Shirland said, but what he will most recall about his friend is the way he noticed when something was wrong and how quickly Smith made it his mission to lift the burden.
“He’d always want to help,” Shirland said. “He was an extremely kind person and a really gentle person.”
Michael Parady met Smith when he first moved to Maine from Massachusetts about 15 years ago. Smith was married once, before he came to Maine, but has been a bachelor as long as Parady has known him.
“He’s probably the most giving person and most helpful person you could ever ask for,” Parady said. “He was someone who wasn’t concerned about his wealth and getting ahead. He was all about having good friends.”
At one time Smith was Blaisdell’s brother-in-law through her previous marriage. The two remained close friends and, for the past year, were co-workers at The Breathable Home in Manchester.
“He came to Maine for a new start,” Blaisdell said. “It gave him a place to start with family. He made a life for himself here.”
Maine proved a good fit for Smith, and vice versa.
“He liked to work with his hands,” Blaisdell said. “He could make a living here doing just that. He made a place and he fit in.”
Smith was a wizard when it came to carpentry or mechanical work. And whether building out of wood or working on a car, Parady said Smith had an old-school philosophy to tackling the job at hand.
“He really cared about what he was doing,” Parady said. “He’s worked on everything from my boat to my vehicles to my lawnmower. He was always there. He was just a phone call away.”
Smith was in his mid 50s when he joined Breathable Home. The work, which can be difficult, dirty and challenging, was unlike anything Smith had done before.
“He did it with vigor and a smile and a can-do attitude,” Blaisdell recalled. “That’s what I admired about him. He was not afraid, at 56 years old, to try something new.”
Company owner Bo Jesperson said he and his employees spent time at a Tuesday morning meeting recalling all they would miss about Smith.
“He was a great guy,” Jesperson said. “I’m really proud to have known him. He was a pleasure to work with.”
Parady recalls the times Smith got his boat going so they could take a cruise in Boothbay Harbor.
“He loved it, and I enjoyed his company immensely,” Parady said. “There’s a lot of memories on the Kennebec River with him.”
The news of Smith’s death has rocked his family and friends. Blaisdell has chosen to respond in a way she says Smith would have: by helping. Smith was always content to get by with little, which means there is no money to pay for his funeral and related expenses. Blaisdell began Tuesday to work on a fundraiser to help cover those costs. People who didn’t even know Smith have already offered to help, Blaisdell said.
“His family should not have to worry about funeral expenses on top of what’s happened,” she said.
Smith’s brother, the father of Blaisdell’s son, passed away last year. Smith, worried about his nephew, took on the young man to help with side jobs Smith scratched together. Working side-by-side, Smith helped his nephew deal with his father’s death, Blaisdell said.
“He was always there to help no matter what,” Blaisdell said. “He was a friendly, simple guy.”
Details of the fundraiser were not immediately available, but those who would like to help can contact Blaisdell at [email protected].
Craig Crosby — 621-5642 |
[email protected] | Twitter: @CraigCrosby4