Remembering Pentwater Fire Chief Paul Smith.

November 21, 2021

Remembering Pentwater Fire Chief Paul Smith.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

PENTWATER — Area firefighters, emergency personnel, community members, friends and family gathered for a funeral service to remember and honor Pentwater Fire Chief Paul Smith at Pentwater Public School Sunday afternoon, Nov. 21.

Chief Smith died Tuesday night, Nov. 16, at the age of 60 after battling cancer.

He is survived by his wife Karen Smith; children Kelly (Mike) Tobias, Julie (Adolf) Smith, Tim (Yessenia) Watkins, Ben (Chrystal) Watkins, and Andy (Martha) Watkins; grandchildren Christian, Lily, Grant, Greenlee, Sullivan, Emeri, Aiden and Ryan; his father Charles Smith; his sister Nicole (Neil) Holladay; and many nieces, nephews, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law. He was preceded in death by his mother Edrid Diane Smith.

Chief Smith began serving on the Pentwater Fire Department in the fall of 2002 and worked his way up the ranks. In 2006, he was promoted to lieutenant, and after Cpt. John Sayles’ line-of-duty death in 2012, he was promoted to captain. 

Pentwater Assistant Fire Chief Ray Hasil, who is the acting fire chief, speaks during Chief Smith’s funeral service.

In 2014, he was the assistant fire chief until the retirement of longtime Fire Chief Terry Cluchey in 2018. Chief Smith had served as Pentwater’s fire chief since April of 2018. Over the years, he had also served the department as caretaker and dive team leader.  

“Paul Curtis Smith played a major role in transforming the Pentwater Fire Department into the group of highly-trained professionals that it is today,” said Pentwater Assistant Fire Chief Ray Hasil, who is the acting fire chief. 

“When the danger tripped, he fought fires aggressively and tirelessly,” said Hasil. “When he exited fires, his face was dark red from the intense heat and physical demands that a firefighter requires.

“Most recently, Paul was instrumental in the designing and funding of the new 170-foot aerial ladder for Pentwater Fire Department.”

Hasil gave an emotional account of the last time he saw his good friend and colleague last Tuesday — hours before he died. Hasil, Retired Chief Cluchey and Cpt. Jonathan Hughart met with Smith and each had a glass of Crown Royal whiskey “on the rocks.” 

Smith expressed that he had little time left and said he knew he was going to die that night or the next day.

“We enjoyed a toast to Paul and proceeded to share some stories, some laughs and some tears. When I left, I said, ‘I love you, Brother.’ And he replied, ‘I love you, too.’

“We all love you, Brother.”

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