‘Inexhaustible curiosity:’ Lawyer, banker, civic leader Lloyd Smith dies at 85

Attorney Lloyd Smith had wide-ranging interests from historical preservation to undergrounding utilities to the poetry of T.S. Eliot. 
Submitted photo Attorney Lloyd Smith had wide-ranging interests from historical preservation to undergrounding utilities to the poetry of T.S. Eliot. Submitted photo

 

Lloyd Smith, a founding partner of Tremblay and Smith law firm, Virginia Broadcasting Corporation, the parent company of what is now NBC29, and Guaranty Bank, as well as the North Downtown Residents Association and Park Lane Swim Club, died June 25 at age 85.

“He had a good life and died quietly with his family there,” says his son Garrett Smith.

Lloyd Smith served on myriad civic boards, including that of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library, where he was instrumental in acquiring the former post office and federal courthouse for what is now the main library.

His purchase of a rundown Park Street manse, the Marshall-Rucker house, and restoration over 50 years resulted in its listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

When Lloyd and Ashlin Smith bought the house in 1960, there was no zoning, no architectural review board or preservation efforts, says Smith. Early members of the North Downtown Residents Association at times would buy an at-risk house to preserve it, he says.

Lloyd Smith served on pretty much every city zoning board—the planning commission, Board of Architectural Review and Board of Zoning Appeals. He also was a director of the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society and served as its president in 1982. And he was a member of the Monument Fund, which is suing the city for its decision to remove Confederate monuments from two downtown parks.

His obituary cites his “inexhaustible curiosity” on far-ranging topics. “He was interested in all kinds of things—architecture, undergrounding [utilities], the law or business,” says Garrett Smith.

Smith was a Marine who served in Korea before obtaining degrees from UVA. Submitted photo

He recalls learning attention to detail from his father, who “spent every weekend of my childhood” restoring the 1894 house. “It’s a process and we focused on details,” learning how to burn paint off wood or how to disassemble a window, says Smith. His father was thrifty and learned how to do the work himself. “That was his hobby.”

Harold Wright, general manager of NBC29, had obtained a license with fellow broadcaster Bob Stroh to start Charlottesville’s first television station, “but we didn’t have the business experience to do it,” says Wright. After teaming up with Lloyd Smith and Gerry Tremblay, “within six months they raised the money” and the station went on the air in 1973.

Smith had a deep interest in history—and in sailing. After he retired, he bought a house on the Chesapeake Bay where he sailed and did historic research. “He loved boating,” says Garrett Smith, recalling trips through Europe on canal boats traveling very slowly.

The Park Lane Swim Club was a neighborhood institution. Garrett Smith remembers the vintage pool empty during his childhood. When his thrifty father decided to restore it in 1980, he asked 10 neighbors to put in $1,000 for a 20-year lease for use of the pool. When the lease expired, the pool was incorporated as a nonprofit and now has a waiting list. The gatherings of the Friday Evening Philosophical Society there were “our Fridays after 5,” he says.

Lloyd Smith “was one of the most interesting men in Charlottesville,” says author Mariflo Stephens, who is a neighbor and member of the pool and philosophical society and Smith’s croquet club. “He was also one of the most generous men in Charlottesville. He could have kept the pool private.”

Garrett Smith says his father would most like to be remembered for the institutions that survive him, such as the bank, TV station, pool club and neighborhood association.

“That’s what he’d like as his legacy—these institutions that made the community better.”

A graveside service will be held at 10am Saturday, June 30, at Riverview Cemetery.

 

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