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Obituary: Doug Smith

Fri, Apr 28th 2017 11:05 pm

Doug Smith, whose 68-year career included stints at numerous Western New York newspapers, ballparks and community theater groups as well as WIVB-TV, died quietly at his home in Cortland on April 20, 2017.

He was 81.

Before moving to Cortland, Doug and his surviving wife, Polly, had been Island residents since 1967.

Smith's longest writing stretch was his regular weekly column for the Buffalo Rocket. Covering sports, movies, drama, restaurants and whatever else crossed his wide-ranging radar, he also wrote for the Tonawanda News, the Niagara Gazette, the Buffalo News and the former Buffalo Courier-Express, where he was on staff for 10 years, and where his and Polly's popular pieces on local budget dining ran under the heading "Cheap Gourmet." Those articles were twice published in book form, eventually selling 15,000 copies.

When the Courier-Express folded in 1982, Smith took the Cheap Gourmet to WIVB-TV, where he served as feature reporter for 10 years.

A lifelong baseball enthusiast, he began his sportswriting career at the age of 13 when a newsman in Jamestown hired him after noticing his careful scorekeeping. Decades later, he served 10 years as public-address announcer, statistician and reporter for the Niagara Power of the New York Collegiate Baseball League. In 2016, Smith was inducted into the Western New York Baseball Hall of Fame.

He also handled dozens of roles in local theater, including several productions for the Grand Island Players through the 1960s and 1970s; twice he had the lead in area stagings of Mitch Albom's "Tuesdays with Morrie."

He maintained a passion for covered bridges, old-style diners and minor-league baseball. In all, he had visited 253 professional ballparks, more than 325 authentic diners and over 300 covered bridges; his travels included 49 states and 25,000 unduplicated railroad miles.

He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Polly, of Cortland; one brother, Robert W. (Estelle) of Moultonborough, New Hampshire; two children, Joseph W. Smith III (Mona) of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and Holly Jaquith (Daniel) of Locke, New York; and four grandchildren, Douglas and Tim Smith, and Nicole and Clark Jaquith.

Services will be held at 2 p.m. on May 6 at Homer Avenue United Methodist Church, 30 Homer Ave. in Cortland.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Doug's name to the SPCA.


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