Longtime county administrator John Smith dies

Published 5:28 pm Friday, April 10, 2020

John Smith, who had served as county administrator for Warren County for 15 years, died Friday at a hospital in Jackson.

Smith, who had served as county administrator since January 2005, had struggled with serious health issues since last November. Those health issues led to his retirement that was effective in December.

“John Smith was a great County Administrator; I learned a lot from him,” Loretta Brantley, who just last week was appointed to county administrator, said. “His greatest joy was his family, he loved them dearly. We spent many hours together talking about work and family. He once told me that the people he worked with were like family to him. It gives me joy and peace to know that he thought of me as family.”

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Brantley worked for a number of years with Smith as comptroller before being appointed as interim administrator in January. Last week, supervisors voted to make her appointment permanent.

“He was just a super guy. When I came into office, he walked me through an awful lot,” Warren County Circuit Clerk Jan Daigre said. “He just kind of led the way for me. I had lots of questions and he always had an answer. And, if he didn’t have the answer, he was quick to find one. He was a very responsive county administrator.

“I knew him all my life. Very sorry for his family,” she added. “I’m glad I got the chance to work with him.”

Smith was selected by the Warren County Board of Supervisors in December 2004 out of a field of 31 people who had applied for the county administrator position. He replaced Rick Polk in the office, who himself had served as county administrator for 21 years.

“My heartfelt condolences go out to the Smith family,” Warren County District 2 Supervisor William Banks said. “May God usher the family with peace and comfort. John was a friend as well as a co-worker. He will truly be missed.”

Banks is the longest-serving member of the current Board of Supervisors and had worked with Smith since he was first elected to the board.

“John was a good man from top to bottom,” former District 3 Warren County Supervisor Charles Selmon said. “His work was outstanding and he was able to communicate with all five supervisors. He was an honest man and a fair man; he always did the right thing.

“My heart and my prayers go out to his family,” he said. “I’m shocked, but God knows best. He was a blessing to everyone while he was here; John was a friend to everyone he met.”

Current Board of Supervisors President Jeff Holland, who joined the board after Smith’s retirement, said Smith left a legacy.

“John was professional, personable, and always worked to get the right thing done the right way,” Holland said. “Many hope to leave behind a legacy. John succeeded, and in doing so, he has left his imprint permanently on Warren County and those he worked with.”

Before coming to the county, Smith was a veteran accountant for the city of Vicksburg.

Ricky Smith, 9th Circuit District Attorney, said he would miss Smith, a man he considered a dear friend.

“I’m going to miss him. We were good friends and he was the go-to person in the county for us; he was always a good friend to the DA’s office,” he said. “My thoughts go out to his family.”

Smith died at Baptist Hospital in Jackson. Fisher-Riles Funeral Home in Vicksburg is handling the arrangements.