George Smith passed away at the much-too-early age of 72.

In life, he was an outdoor icon. A fierce advocate for all things wild and for Maine’s treasured outdoor heritage. Today, we pay tribute to a great friend, a trusted mentor, and tireless adviser.

George passed away on Feb. 12 after a four-year battle with ALS. ALS likely never battled such a formidable foe.

For those that didn’t know George, he was a political force, the longtime executive director of the Sportman’s Alliance of Maine, and one of Maine’s most prolific outdoor writers. To us, he was a dear friend, an everyday presence that sought to pass the torch of protector of the Maine outdoors.

As two people deeply involved in Maine’s outdoors, we believe it is fitting to memorialize George for what he did to protect it.

From his work to establish the Land for Maine’s Future program, to the creation of the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, to his advocacy for native wild brook trout, to expanding opportunities for sportsman, for living and promoting the lifestyle he cherished, to the thousands of pieces of legislation and issues he worked on in between, George left his mark on virtually every aspect of Maine’s outdoor life.

For us, he was a coach. A sounding board. A catalyst for doing what is right, even when it felt uncomfortable. George was always willing to listen to an idea and give you feedback and counsel. He was forever suggesting proposals and had an ever-evolving list of things he wanted us to do.

Some ideas were great, others not so much. He always was rightly advocating for more female biologists and wardens, and urging us to do more. Yet he also mistakenly thought it was a good idea to use a helicopter to treat moose with tick medicine. He always was great at debating and promoting his proposals, yet still able to laugh and tease when you disagreed.

George was so much to so many. An exceptionally kind man, a generous neighbor, a remarkable father, doting grandfather, loving husband, and of course, an angler, hunter, birder. He was the consummate Maine sportsman, and a true friend.

We take to heart the lessons he taught us, to not only care for our natural resources, but to passionately advocate for them, so that the Maine that we all treasure will be loved by generations to come. George cherished his adventures with friends and family in the woods and waters of Maine, and he wanted to share those experiences with people near and far. We should all strive to do the same.

It’s a tall order, but we will do our part to pick up that torch and carry it forward. George would expect nothing less.

Judy Camuso is commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. James Cote is a longtime advocate for Maine sportsmen and women.

 

 


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