Champion of the Month

Gus Smart Share

Nov 1, 2019  |  Layla Price-Bodkin

Gus Smart was born and raised near Craw­ford, Mis­sis­sip­pi with four sib­lings includ­ing a twin broth­er. He attend­ed high school at B. L. Moore in Starkville, then began work­ing as a teen in a mill for a fur­ni­ture com­pa­ny where he became an assis­tant fore­man. He then took on dif­fer­ent jobs doing weld­ing and fab­ri­ca­tion, then laid pipe, all in and around Colum­bus, MS, before decid­ing to search for oppor­tu­ni­ties else­where. Smart final­ly land­ed a promis­ing job in Mar­i­on, IN at then Fos­ter-Forbes Glass Com­pa­ny. After 25 years of ser­vice, Smart retired in 2004.

Short­ly fol­low­ing retire­ment, Smart was approached by for­mer City of Mar­i­on Neigh­bor­hood Asso­ci­a­tion Coor­di­na­tor, Lar­ry Richard­son, about reac­ti­vat­ing Smart’s neigh­bor­hood: the Har­ry Cramer Neigh­bor­hood Asso­ci­a­tion. After learn­ing more, Smart accept­ed the chal­lenge and began ini­ti­at­ing neigh­bor involve­ment. At the time, Smart explained there were bad streets, pot holes, hous­es need­ing torn down, and cer­tain cas­es of drug activ­i­ty. He began encour­ag­ing neigh­bors to report issues to him which he would pass direct­ly on to Richard­son. Once dis­grun­tled neigh­bors became hope­ful after prob­lems began to resolve. Smart explained that many improve­ments have been made over the years large­ly due to the report­ing sys­tem and more neigh­bor involve­ment. Today, not near­ly as many com­plaints are being made, he report­ed. Smart remains Pres­i­dent of the Har­ry Cramer NA, has a ded­i­cat­ed lead­er­ship part­ner in Tam­my Philburn who serves as VP and per­forms Sec­re­tary duties, and works close­ly with cur­rent Neigh­bor­hood Asso­ci­a­tion Coor­di­na­tor, Kay­la John­son. He leads month­ly meet­ings and coor­di­nates oth­er ini­tia­tives such as cleanups and block par­ties. Smart is now work­ing with neigh­bors and the City to add a park in the neigh­bor­hood. Reflect­ing, he expressed hope that inac­tive neigh­bors will start to get more involved. We are striv­ing to improve our com­mu­ni­ty and not just live in the same groove. They should make up their own minds and not be bribed with cof­fee and doughnuts…but just have the heart,” Smart said.

Smart has pur­chased land around his prop­er­ty from the City in order to con­trol and main­tain it. He rides a bicy­cle around the neigh­bor­hood, con­tin­u­ing good rela­tion­ships, pay­ing atten­tion to the peo­ple and their sto­ries, and is present when needed.

Smart is also a mem­ber of the House of Wor­ship for All Peo­ple, and sings in the church choir.

He is a wid­ow­er, has three chil­dren, all of whom live in Mar­i­on, two grand­sons, and one great-granddaughter.

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