Fitzgerald (Jerry) C. Smith, 83, of New York City, passed away Sunday, Aug. 7, at a care center in Twin Falls, Idaho, following complications from a stroke.
Jerry was born in New York City on April 15, 1922. After attending Hamilton College briefly, he opted to begin his journalism career at age 19 at The New York Times. From there, he moved to NBC where he was employed for over 30 years and traveled the world interviewing celebrities, actors and anyone else who crossed his path. Jerry won two Peabody awards for his documentary work that was featured on Monitor, NBC network's radio program. He was a Reuters war correspondent and also served as a merchant marine in World War II.
In 1959, Jerry met and fell in love with his wife, Edith Beeson Smith, over a hot fudge sundae at Schrafft's in Manhattan. They were married a few months later, and in May of 1961 their daughter, Alexandra, was born.
Jerry adored Eastern Long Island and bought his first house of many in Sag Harbor just a few months before he met Edie. The journalist in Jerry couldn't resist the opportunity to begin a radio station in Sag Harbor, and in 1963, Jerry swam out in a pond and anchored a cable wire for a radio tower. Within days, WLNG, one of Eastern Long Island's most popular stations, began broadcasting. Alex and Edie fondly remember helping him with the earlier weather forecasts. After checking the thermometer outside their bathroom window, they quickly reported back to Jerry so that he could complete his weather report for WLNG.
Jerry learned how to swim in the East River of Manhattan and continued his love of swimming in the many ocean beaches of Eastern Long Island. He was often known to spend full moons skinny dipping at one of his many favorite beaches. He also found great pleasure in buying old houses throughout Eastern Long Island at auctions and fixing them up for resale. He truly loved New York and couldn't walk down a street in all of Manhattan without telling you the happenings of the neighborhood.
In his recent years, Jerry found great pleasure in listening to the radio news every hour on the hour. He and Edie also enjoyed singing along with Frank Sinatra and friends, yet was occasionally frustrated as Edie remembered more words than he could. He remained an inquiring reporter until the day he died, always quizzing his caregivers, nurses and doctors on who they were, where they had come from, and their plans for the future.
Surviving Jerry are his loving wife, Edie, daughter, Alex Taylor, and son-in-law, Ron Taylor, of Hailey, Idaho. He also left behind his many feline friends: Harry, Cherry, Lucy, Raisin and Emilia. A heartfelt thanks and much love goes out to all who took such good care of Jerry in New York, Hailey and Twin Falls. His ashes will be scattered off the waters of Manhattan and Eastern Long Island. A private celebration of his life was held at his daughter's home where many "Fitz" stories and hot fudge sundaes were enjoyed by all.
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