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Dec 04

Leon Smith Memorial Bridge

Posted on December 4, 2020 at 3:52 PM by Jamesan Gramme

Lately on my commute to/from work I’ve paid more attention to the sign on Leon Smith Memorial Bridge (Hwy 19 between the Walmart shopping center and Home Depot) and thought it would be worthwhile to share info. on the man for which it is named.
Alvah Leon Smith, August 14, 1923-April 1, 1976, was long-time editor for both the Free Press and The Thomaston Times.
Moreover, he was said to be a strong advocate for many causes that contributed toward the betterment of Thomaston and Upson County. Even as a young adult, he was highly vocal about donating an old WWI cannon which formerly occupied the courthouse square to an iron scrap drive that benefited the war effort in WWII.
Leon got his start in the paper business as a young boy, waking up at 4am with his dad to deliver AJC’s so his family could have food on the table during the Great Depression. After returning from the navy in WWII, Smith became editor for the Free Press. After some time, he gained the same title for The Thomaston Times and eventually became a partner in 1964. Some readers may remember his weekly “Not Responsible” articles. Smith was also a strong advocate towards building the dam along the Flint in the 1970s.
Those who remember Dr. R.L. Carter’s “Looking Back at Thomaston in the 1800s” articles may be interested to know that Dr. Carter credits Leon Smith for getting him to begin writing the column. Dr. Carter also credits Smith with publicizing the Upson Historical Society in their early years and garnering public support so they would be able to preserve their current museum, the Pettigrew-White-Stamps Home. Carter also said the following of Mr. Smith, “He was keenly interested in the colorful early history of our county and the great heritage left us by our forebears. It was his desire that the present generation be made aware of how their ancestors worked, lived and died to create this county in which they now live.”
Sadly, Leon died during a boy scout camping trip in the Smoky Mountains on April 1, 1976. He was only 52. In March of 1979, the former Potato Creek Bridge was named for him.

2020-12-03_Leon Smith Bridge-1979-03-07 Thomaston Times, March 7, 1979. 2020-12-04-Leon Smith-1940-RE Lee Annual Leon Smith as a Senior. R.E. Lee Institute Annual, 1940. 2020-12-03-Leon Smith-1976-04-05