GAINESVILLE - A memorial service will be held Tuesday for former U.S. District Court Judge and community leader Sidney O. Smith, Jr. Judge Smith died early Saturday at the age of 88.
Judge Smith was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District where he served for nine years, including six years as chief judge.
Smith was also a staunch supporter of education as a former member of the Gainesville Board of Education, the state Board of Regents, and as a fourth-generation member of the Brenau University Board of Trustees.
Smith was born and raised in Gainesville, Ga. His great-grandfather, Reconstruction-era Congressman William Pierce Price of Dahlonega, was a member of the 1878 founding board of what is now Brenau University. Price's son-in-law and Smith's grandfather, William Arthur Charters, was on the board in 1911 when Brenau became a chartered institution of higher learning. Also, Smith's father and mother, Isabelle Price Charters Smith, served simultaneously on the Brenau board.
Following service in World War II, Smith graduated cum laude from Harvard, where he played on the football team with future U.S. Attorney General and U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Georgia law school. After private law practice, he served as assistant Solicitor-General (a prosecuting attorney role) for Hall County and as a Superior Court Judge for the Gainesville-based Northeastern Judicial Circuit before President Lyndon Johnson appointed him to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. Judge Smith served on the federal bench for nine years, including six years as chief judge. After leaving federal court, he returned to private law practice, joining an Atlanta law firm.
His service to both public and private education began as chairman of the Gainesville Board of Education. Including his service on the Brenau board, including a period as chairman, he also served on the state Board of Regents, the governing body for Georgia's public colleges and universities. Although he offered to step down from the Brenau board to remove possible conflict of interest questions, members of both bodies collectively dissuaded him.
In 2010, the Brenau Board of Trustees voted unanimously to name all of its graduate programs after Judge Smith. A year later the new doctoral degree-granting program at Brenau was named in his honor. In 2003, Smith was named to head the search committee that eventually brought Brenau its current president, Ed Schrader.
A memorial service for will be held on Tuesday July 17, 2012, at 4p.m. at Grace Episopal Church.