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March 21, 2014

(UPDATE) Local auto dealer, community leader Mitch Smith passes away

CULLMAN — Prominent Cullman auto dealer Mitch Smith was found dead in his Cullman home Friday around 9:50 a.m. officials said.

Cullman County Coroner Steve Rodgers confirmed that Smith, 72, of Cullman had passed away in his residence at 905 5th Avenue Southwest. Rodgers said the Cullman Police Department is handling the investigation. Assistant Police Chief Craig Green said Smith was both an asset and active member of the community.

“He was a great support of the police department,” Green said. “He assisted us in the Shop with a Cop program at Christmas, helping fund the event to bring gifts to the kids that we sponsored. If he heard that an officer was involved in a car chase, or big arrest, he buy the officer lunch. He truly had a heart for people and helped define Cullman. His impact will be felt for years and years in Cullman.”

Lakeside Pharmacy owner Scott Edmondson said Smith helped get his business started years ago.

“I was looking for a job the summer before I returned for my senior year at Auburn and Mitch hired me to clean up some land for him,” Edmondson said. “While I was working at the lot, I was using shovels and rakes and putting them in the trunk of my car and he came and asked me what my plan was  after college. I told him I had a landscaping business and wanting to save the money I made this summer to buy a truck to use. He told me that if I put together a budget for my senior year of college showing how I’d pay for truck, he’d help me get one.”

 Edmondson said he made the budget Smith requested and met with him at his office later that day.

“I had just enough money to make a monthly payment, but not enough for  a down payment and he said, ‘I’ll tell you what, go pick out a truck and I’ll call you in a couple of days,’” Edmondson said tearfully. “Two days later, he called me and we sat in his office again and he told me I’d be driving that truck home. He worked out a deal for me and that truck was mine. Years ago, I was telling that story to someone at the dealership and someone told me that Mitch had put his own money down to get me the truck that day.”

He went on to say that Smith had been a mentor for a long time and helped him start his business venture.

“I could always go there and sit down with him and tell him what was going on, he would give me good, sound advice and I valued that,” Edmondson said. “I’m going to miss that, I really am. About two weeks ago, I sat and talked with him and the roles had reversed. I was listening to him, about things going on in his life. He helped put me in business after I got out of school and with that little red brand new Chevy truck, 350 brand new. He was a great guy and his door was always open.”

“This was a brief moment in a person’s life who gave so much of his time and talent to better this community,” Green said. “We as a department will be praying for Mitch Smith’s family.”

 * Lauren Estes can be reached at laurene@cullmantimes.com or 256-734-2131, ext. 137. 



 

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