Boy Scout leader Thornton Smith dies at 96

Rose Weldon
Thornton Smith in full uniform as a leader in Troop 71 of the Boy Scouts of America. Smith, also a member of the Plandome Fire Department, died at his home in Greenport at the age of 96. (Photo courtesy of the Smith family.)

Thornton Edward Smith, an Army veteran and graduate of Harvard Business School whose life was spent in service to the Manhasset and Plandome communities through scouting and the fire department, died at his home in Greenport on Saturday, Nov. 23. He was 96.

One of three children born to the late Dr. Henry Buel Smith and Hazel Sweezy Smith, Smith grew up in Hempstead before graduating from Phillips Exeter Academy, a boarding school in Exeter, N.H., as a member of the Class of 1941.

Smith served in the Army Corps of Engineers during World War II, performing work in the Philippines and on the Manhattan Project. Upon returning home, he graduated with a degree in civil engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1948, and a Master’s in Business Administration from Harvard Business School in 1949.

Professionally, Smith served as owner and CEO of Kuhn, Smith & Harris Inc., a construction business headquartered in Manhattan, which he ran for over 35 years. He also joined the Army Reserves, eventually rising to the rank of colonel.

Smith’s love of the Boy Scouts spanned 84 years. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout as a teenager, an achievement shared by all of his sons and three of his grandsons. His passion for scouting led to a 55-year association with Troop 71 in Plandome.

He was also a loyal member of the Delta Upsilon fraternity and served for over 40 years as a member of the Plandome Fire Department.

A member of First Universalist Church of Southold and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock in Manhasset, Smith enjoyed hunting, fishing and hiking in the outdoors, according to his family.

Smith is survived by his wife of 68 years, Sherry Wakelee Smith, of Peconic Landing; children Jeffrey Smith of Arlington, Virginia, T. Wakelee Smith of Sag Harbor, Riordon B. Smith of Vero Beach, Florida, Neil H. Smith of Weston, Massachusetts and daughter Tarin Smith Davies of Albuquerque, New Mexico; as well as grandchildren Carlie and Kyland Smith; Ryan, Austin and Ashley Davies; Dillon, Cheyenne and Colter Smith; Amanda (Ohnmacht), Winston and Everett Smith; and Skylar, Chloe and Carter Smith; great-grandchildren Gabrielle, Marius, Theodore and Cassien Davies and Greyson Davies. Smith is also survived by his sister, Shirley Smith Anderson. Preceding him in death was his brother, Buel Sweezy Smith.

A memorial celebration was to be held Saturday at 11:00 a.m. in the auditorium at Peconic Landing, 1500 Brecknock Road in Greenport.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in honor of Thornton Smith may be made to Troop 71 Foundation, care of 45 Winthrope Road in Manhasset, or the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee at 689 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge, Mass.

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