Maine outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen and, indeed, the Maine outdoors, lost a champion Friday night. George Smith, longtime leader of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, died of ALS.
He discussed his reaction to his illness during an appearance on Maine Calling three years ago.
“People say, ‘George, you seem so hopeful and OK with this,’ and I say, ‘Well what is the alternative? Anger? Depression? That’s not me,” he said.
After stepping down from his post at the Sportsman’s Alliance in 2010, he continued to write about the outdoors. In 2014, he talked with Morning Edition about a book of his columns called “A Life Lived Outdoors.”
“People that sort of saw me as this powerful lobbyist who, you know, rammed through everything he wanted, have been a little surprised that there was a softer side of George, let’s say,” Smith said.
More columns and books would follow, but, in recent years, it was said he was happiest being a grandfather.
Smith’s death prompted many tributes from top politicians, and from Maine’s leading environmental group. Natural Resources Council of Maine CEO Lisa Pohlmann wrote Smith used “powerful words, and deep experience in the outdoors to protect Maine’s woods, waters and wildlife for future generations.”
Gov. Janet Mills wrote, “George loved Maine. And Maine loved George.”
U.S. Sen. Angus King wrote, “his legacy is all around us — from the adventurers he inspired to the lands he protected.”
Smith died Friday night at home in Mount Vernon. He was 72 years old.