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Colleagues remember Smith as a dear friend, great public servant

Former Warren County Administrator John Smith left a legacy both as a public servant and a friend to many people.

Smith, who had served as county administrator since January 2005, died April 10 after an almost five-month struggle with health issues.

He was a 1976 graduate of St. Aloysius High School and a graduate of the University of Mississippi and Mississippi College. He was a member of St. Michael Catholic Church.

“John and I have known each other since high school, Sheriff Martin Pace said. “He will be missed as a friend, but just as important as our county administrator. He was always professional, caring and effective as an administrator.

“I thoroughly enjoyed working with him for the years he was with the county,” he said. “As much as John loved his career, he loved his family more. I was never around John that somewhere in the conversation he didn’t mention his family.”

Smith began his career in public service with the city of Vicksburg, where he served as city auditor for 18 years before going to Warren County as county administrator.

Former Warren County Board of Supervisors President Richard George, who was on the board before Smith came to the county, recalled working with Smith on city/county interlocal agreements while Smith was with the city.

“John was a real professional; he was a kind man, he was a very smart man,” George said. “He knew his business and he knew how to conduct business. He was a great, great pleasure to work with and a true friend.”

Smith, he said, had a manner about him “that even in the most tedious of times he could make things as pleasurable as they could be under the circumstances. He was a unique individual.

One thing that stood out, he said, was Smith’s ability “to keep an even keel and be kind, even when some of the associates he had to deal with were less than kind. John had that ability to absorb that, and he had a great attitude about keeping an eye on the matter at hand and not getting in unnecessary areas.”

Smith, George said, had a lot of experience from his more than 30 combined years between the city and the county, adding, “He dealt with a lot of individuals. He dealt with some that knew what they were supposed to be doing, he dealt with some that did not have the full idea of what they were doing.”

And he had the ability to communicate and be honest in his delivery, George said.

“He knew business, he knew what needed to be done and he could explain it to you.

He was very, very knowledgeable.

“They talk about doctors having a bedside manner,” George said. “To be a county administrator, John had the best bedside manner of most any county administrator I had any dealings with.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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