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Letter: Tribute to a dear friend

Ed Smith (Sept. 27, 1940–Sept. 8, 2017) I met Ed some 40 years ago when I returned to the Green Bay area and, as the old saying goes, we clicked and remained friends until his death.

Ed Smith

Ed, in his own words, lived the good life — good job, involved in community organizations and, most of all, he had a loving family and scads of friends. In his own words he had wealth; he wasn’t a millionaire, but he had what he needed.

Shortly after Ed retired, he was involved in an accident that changed his life forever. My thoughts at that time were of how cruel can life be. This was a well-respected man who contributed a lot to society, just retired and about to enjoy some leisure time and do the things that, when you’re working, you don’t have time for.

The same time that Ed was at the Health Sciences Centre after the accident, my son was in the next room having surgery. I hung around the hall hoping I could see him, though he wasn’t allowed any visitors. After awhile “OH” (“Other Half,” as he referred to his wife, Marion) took me in. The first words he said to me were, “Wilfred, will we have a food fishery this year?” Ed was a true advocate for rural Newfoundland and Labrador and was of the opinion that you should be able to catch a fish for the table whenever you wanted to, same as you could get wood to warm your home. I guaranteed Ed he would be able to catch a fish that summer, hoping to make him feel better.

Ed never did get his life back to normal, but that did not stop him. He continued his writings and especially his column, The View From Here. I looked forward every week to reading his articles, as did many other people, wondering what the topic would be or what OH was up to.

The last time I saw Ed was some months ago at a funeral of one of his friends. He said to me, “I hear you on ‘Open Line’ sometimes.” I replied, “I don’t be on much lately. I don’t think anyone is listening to me because nothing changes.”

His reply was one I will always cherish: “Wilfred, I listen to you.” Coming from Ed Smith, that meant a lot.

Ed’s funeral was one of a kind. Recordings of Ed’s and Pat’s songs were played before the service, and much of the service was devoted to Ed’s writing, read by members of the family and friends. As we all know, Ed’s writings were full of humour and fun.

The Recessional hymn, “Let Me Fish off Cape St. Mary’s” by Otto Kelland, was very fitting for Ed.

It was a sendoff fit for a king.

I will miss the Christmas cards, but I will not forget.

Bon voyage, dear friend. Rest in peace.


Wilfred Bartlett
Green Bay South

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