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Meet Sam Smith

Written by Linda Kirkpatrick on .

Deciding they’d rather be in the mountains than look at them, Sam and Linda Smith settled on Evergreen when seeking a place to relocate close to their daughter and her family in Niwot. While driving into town, Elk Meadow made quite an impression on them, as it does for many.

In 2007 Sam retired from the Federal Reserve system where he’d been Senior VP of the Cleveland district for 21 years. He’d worked his way up during the 37 years with the ‘Fed’ after his service as a naval officer in Vietnam in the late ‘60s.

During his career he’d spoken to many Rotary groups, but he’d never joined one until retirement. He figured it would be a good place to meet people, and indeed, it was!

“They do a lot of good work – they’re really involved,” he said with admiration of Evergreen Rotary. He served as Secretary for two years putting in 10-20 hours/week on attending meetings, administrative work, and special projects such as the recycling effort and Rotary warm Heart at Ft. Carson, which raises money for the families of deployed soldiers having financial difficulties. In 2014 he will become President of the organization.

“I got to know a lot of people really fast,” he said in his soft, calm tone that still displays a hint of his Southern upbringing. “Through that, I got to meet Karen Lindsey, putting tiles on the floor of the Easter Seals cabin.” That led to his becoming involved with Art for the Mountain Community (AMC). He’s served on the AMC board since 2009, including a year as President of the 23-member board in 2012.

Sam agreed that it’s definitely a working board. “I’m famous for looking in the dark corners – things no one else wants to do,” he admits. Between his drive and the organization’s need, he’s been involved with not only cleaning the sculptures but also putting together instructions on how to clean the various mediums used. “If it’s bronze, it’s like washing and waxing a car; if stone, it’s a totally different deal,” he explains. “Most are bronze; some are steel. We have no acid rain here,” he adds, referencing other places like Boston and Washington, DC, where moisture and elements cause the bronzes to turn green.

He’s also credited with developing a system to ensure the permanent sculptures are cleaned on a regular basis by enlisting schools to get involved. AMC gives a presentation about AMC and the Sculpture Walk to 5th and 6th graders and then gets them, their parents and grandparents, and teachers involved. Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen and Evergreen Country Day School have both taken on the project.

AMC is credited with having 29 sculptures permanently placed in the Evergreen area. In addition, each year it solicits artists from all over the country to apply to display their sculptures for 12 months. In early June, quite a changeover takes place in a single weekend when 12-16 artists arrive to remove their works of art. The next day another 12-16 artists install their creations. AMC holds a reception for the artists, provides overnight lodging for those who travel a considerable distance when they make deliveries and/or pickups, presents awards, and pays them a stipend.

It’s just “an example of some of the amazing things that can be done in this community,” he says. “People here care.”

Although it wasn’t on his list of criteria when relocating, he’s been pleasantly surprised at how sophisticated people are who live here in Evergreen.

It’s not just a matter of wanting art and finding a piece to be placed by a willing artist. There’s a process for asking artists to participate, developing a fair system to jury the entries, creating plaques and marketing materials, working out formal agreements with landowners where the pieces are located, and making sure the pieces are insured.

Although there is no paid staff, fundraising is necessary to cover expenses and to purchase permanent pieces. By working with individuals and businesses that fund specific artwork, AMC has been able to enlarge the collection throughout the mountain area.

In many places, one percent of a building cost is dedicated to public art if it’s government property. “Here they’re all funded by donations,” Sam says, explaining that other towns and cities either have tax money or philanthropists who make public art available.

Evergreen Newcomers & Neighbors (ENN) also played a part in helping the Smiths get acquainted in the community. They both skied with the Newcomers group; more recently they’ve become involved the 4x4 group.

When he can find time, Sam enjoys playing golf, doing yard work and fly fishing too. He’s a member of Evergreen Pathfinders, a men’s group with community interests, and chairs the Worship Team at Rockland Community Church.

Although volunteering doesn’t allow for much else, he keeps one toe in the water professionally as a consultant in the banking industry. He also serves as a guest speaker at the University of Denver – Daniels College of Business where he talks to the Money and Banking class, explaining the Federal Reserve in understandable terms.

As for the level of responsibility he’s had over the years, he reflects on his days as a nuclear weapons officer in the Navy, in charge of 8 missiles. “I had more responsibility with that at age 22 than ever since.”