Ode to Gordon Burns Smith
Gordon was a friend o’ mine;|
a soul that knew no malice:
a Georgian to the core of being;
whose creed t’was: “ NON SIBI, SED ALIIS.”
Gordon was a man ‘mongst men;
...a warrior and a servant:
and his passion knew no end;
his heart was fierce and fervent.
The Bard of State: an Author blessed,
a man of words and letters;
has left behind, for his throng o’ friends,
a world that’s much the better.
His strength of mind, his compass true;
were always there to guide us;
and from his store of writings vast,
his wisdom still shall lead us.
A “Man’s a Man for a’ of that,”
describes our brother Gordon:
whose hand of help is now outstretched,
for those across the Jordan.
So now I raise this toast on high,
for our departed brother;
whose motto was “not for ourselves,
but for the love of others.”
Smith was a communicant, Sunday school teacher, and member of the Elliott House of Studies Committee, St. John’s Church of Savannah.
He was admitted to practice law in Alabama and Georgia, as well as the Georgia Court of Appeals, Georgia Supreme Court, U.S. Court for the 11th Circuit, U.S. Supreme Court, and U.S. Court of Military Appeals, and actually argued cases before these courts. He was formerly in the private practice of law in Savannah, and served as assistant Chatham County Attorney; later chief of Felony Prosecution Team as Assistant Chatham County District Attorney; and Title Attorney, Lawyers Title Insurance Corporation.
Smith was a graduate of U.S. Army Airborne and Ranger Schools at Fort Benning; Field Artillery Basic and Career Courses at Fort Sill; Quartermaster Corps Basic and S4/G4 Courses at Fort Lee; Judge Advocate General’s Corps Basic and Career Courses at the University of Virginia; and Command and General Staff College at the University of Southern Mississippi. He served as captain in 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile) in Vietnam (Lam Son 719 and 720); later as a field artillery battery commander; and subsequently, staff judge advocate. He served as acting chief of administrative law United Nations Command\U.S. Forces-Korea\Eighth U.S. Army, Republic of Korea, 1990; and as brigade staff judge advocate, 48th Infantry Brigade (Mechanized), in Operation Desert Shield/Storm, 1990–1991. He retired in 1994 as lieutenant colonel, USAR, and colonel, GaANG. Decorated with the Bronze Star (Second Award) and Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Badge with Palm in Vietnam, Ranger Tab, Parachutist Badge, Meritorious Service Medal, etc. The 48th Mechanized Infantry Brigade inducted him into its Hall of Fame as a member of the Order of the Volunteer, and the United States Field Artillery inducted him into the Honorable Military Order of St. Barbara. He was particularly proud of having encouraged and appointed several junior enlisted men to earn commissions as military officers, thus launching them into successful careers in the Army.
He was a past member of the board of curators, Georgia Historical Society; past president, Sons of the Revolution in the State of Georgia and General Historian of the General Society of the Sons of the Revolution; member of the standing committee, Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Georgia; past commander of LaFayette McLaws Chapter No. 97, Military Order of Stars and Bars, past lieutenant commander of the Southern Division of the Georgia Society, and past national staff officer of the General Society M.O.S.B.; past historian and secretary, The Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Georgia; member of The Somerset Chapter Magna Charta Barons; The Order of George Washington; life member, The Plantagenet Society; The Colonial Order of the Crown; The Society Of Descendants Of Knights of the Most Noble Order of the Garter; past president of Francis Henry Harris Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution Robert E. Burt Boy Scout Volunteer Medal, life member, New Brunswick Branch, United Empire Loyalists’ Association; member of The Society of the War of 1812 in the State of Georgia; organizing member of the board of directors and life member of the Georgia National Guard Historical Society; member of the Liberty County Historical Society; and life member, Bulloch County Historical Society.
He was historian, life member, and past president, Chatham Artillery; past commander and past president, Service Battery (“Republican Blues”) 214th Field Artillery; past president and life member, Georgia Hussars; life member and member of the Executive Board, Savannah Volunteer Guards; past board of directors, First Volunteer Regiment of Georgia; commander, Oglethorpe Light Infantry; past president, Captain’s Association, Inc.; past delegate chairman, Veterans’ Council of Savannah; member of Ellis E. Williams Post No 7116, Sylvania, Georgia, Veterans of Foreign Wars; member, past member of the executive committee, judge advocate and chairman of the Eagle Scout Committee, American Legion Post 135; past commander, Savannah Chapter, Military Order of the World Wars; secretary, Savannah Chapter, Military Order of Foreign Wars; charter national legal officer and life member, United States Army Ranger Association; member of the Airborne Association; life member of the Military Officers Association of America, past member of the Macon Volunteers and the Frederica Rifles.
In addition, he was past master and life member, Landrum Lodge No. 48, F. & A.M.; member, member of Newington Lodge No. 503, F. & A.M.; Magnolia Lodge No. 53, F.A.A.M., of the District of Columbia; honorary member, Richard T. Turner Lodge No. 116, F. & A.M.; Blue Lodge Fourth Degree; 33° I.G. Honorary and past chairman of the Executive Committee, Savannah Valley of the Scottish Rite (A.A.S.R., S.J.); past prior of Georgia Priory No. 39, Knights of the York Cross of Honour; past recorder and past sovereign, Oglethorpe Conclave, Red Cross of Constantine; past chairman of the Trial Commission for the 1st District of Georgia, Grand Lodge of Georgia F. & A.M.; prosecutor-at-large for the State of Georgia, Grand Lodge of Georgia F. & A.M. (2006); past member of the Appeals and Grievances Committee and present member of the Jurisprudence and General Welfare Committees, and Educational and Historical Commission, as well as Parliamentarian, Grand Lodge of Georgia, F. & A.M. (2007–8). Also, he was past master, Savannah Lodge of Research No. 1 of the Grand Lodge of Georgia, F. & A.M.; deputy master, First Masonic District Convention, F. & A.M.; past high priest, Georgia Chapter No. 3, Royal Arch Masons, past District High Priest of the First District Convention and member of the Order of High Priesthood, Grand Chapter of Georgia, R.A.M.; past illustrious master, Georgia Council No. 2, Royal & Select Masters, and member of the Order of the Silver Trowel, Grand Council of Georgia, R. & S.M.; past eminent commander, Palestine Commandery No. 7, Knights Templar, and member of the Order of the Knight Crusaders of the Cross, Grand Commandery of Georgia; life member of Samuel H.J. Womack Council No. 20, Knight Masons (Irish Degrees); life member of the Royal Order of Scotland and past president, Georgia Highlands Association, Royal Order of Scotland; past governor, Herman E. Freeman York Rite College No. 186 (Order of the Purple Cross); past master, Savannah Council No. 328, Allied Masonic Degrees Of The U.S.A.; and life member, Scottish Rite Research Society (Master Craftsman I and II). In addition, he was a perpetual member of both DaNang Chapter No. 498 and Saigon Chapter No. 409, National Sojourners; past president, past regional representative, and perpetual member of Hunter Chapter No. 502, National Sojourners; past commander Georgia Hussars Camp, Heroes of ’76; charter member and life member, George Washington Chapter, Order of DeMolay; and life member, International DeMolay Alumni Association. He was a past member of Alee Temple No. 12, Ancient and Accepted Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine; and past member of the Knights of Mecca of Alee Shrine Temple. In addition, he was lead attorney of record for the Grand Chapter of Georgia, R.A.M., in the case of Isaac Cohen vs. City of Macon, vs. Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Georgia et al., Bibb County Superior Court, Case Number 95-CV-07266; co-counsel of record with Judge J. Walter Cowart in case of York Rite Bodies of Savannah vs. Chatham County Board of Tax Assessors all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ended in successful statewide referendum that amended the Georgia Constitution so as to exempt Masonic properties from ad valorem taxation. He designed the grand master’s presentation coin for Grand Master Eli Austin Stafford and the ladies’ pin for his wife Lily Mae Stafford (2007); designed the medal presented by the Grand Lodge of Georgia to recipients of the Eagle Scout Award, as well as the presentation certificate accompanying it; and compiled The Grand Masters Of Masons In Georgia, 1760–2013 for the Educational and Historical Commission of the Grand Lodge of Georgia, F. & A.M.
Smith was an Honorary (Senior) Member, St. Andrew’s Society of Savannah; historian and chairman of the Historical Committee, chairman of the Bicentennial Committee, and member of the Special Committee on the Celebration of the Centennial of the Joint Meeting Between the St. Andrew’s Society and the Hibernian Society, of The Hibernian Society of Savannah; life member and past member of the Executive Board, Georgia Salzburger Society. He compiled Toasts to The Harp of Erin and the Lion of Scotland (historic, combined meeting, Hibernian Society of Savannah and St. Andrews Society of Savannah, 2008), was a life Woodbadge Member of Clan MacLaren, co-organizer of the Hugh MacKay Chapter of the Scottish American Military Society, past member of Macfarlane Clan and Clan Chattan, co-organizer of the Coastal Area Historical Society, and original member of the Institute for the Studies of American Culture.
In Scouting he began as a Bobcat in 1952, advancing to Webelos Arrow of Light, and finally earning Eagle Scout with Bronze Palm, God and Country Award, member of Immokalee Lodge No. 353 (past lodge vice chief) and Vigil Honor Member (Schachachgapewi Leke or “Righteous Loyal One”) of Tomo Chi-Chi Lodge No. 119, Order of the Arrow (Adult Service Award from Tomo Chi-Chi Lodge); past National Council Representative and past President, Coastal Empire Council No. 99, B.S.A. (taking the council from abject bankruptcy in 2004 to Centennial Quality Council in 2007); received the Silver Beaver Award; and earned the Wood Badge (three beads) and the Adult Scouter’s Training Award Medal. In 2007, with the able assistance of his wife, he sold Camp Blue Heron, a small camp site near Riceboro, for thirteen and one-half million dollars, thus getting the council out of virtual bankruptcy and enabling the creation of a permanent endowment fund, for which effort a site at Camp Black Creek in Screven County was dedicated in his memory as a retreat for reflection. He designed numerous, beautiful patches and neckerchiefs, and compiled History of Chehaw Council No. 97, Boy Scouts of America; History of Coastal Empire Council No. 99, Boy Scouts of America; and Camp Blue Heron, Coastal Empire Council, B.S.A.
In addition, he was a member of the Savannah Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Order and past member of The Oglethorpe Club of Savannah.
He published numerous books and articles, including the following, The Chatham Artillery, 1786–2011; History of The Savannah Bar Association; The History Of The Georgia Militia, 1783–1861 (four volumes, 1,600 pp.; 2000–2001); Morningstars of Liberty: The Revolutionary War in Georgia, 1775–1783, Vol. 1 (2007); Morningstars of Liberty: Georgia Continental Officers During the American Revolution, 1775–1783, Vol. 2 (2011); History Of The Society Of Colonial Wars In The State Of Georgia, 1987–2007; The Hibernian Society of Savannah: History of the Second Hundred Years (2013); and co-author with wife of Ghost Dances and Shadow Pantomimes, Vol. 1 (2004). His finished but unpublished works include: The Georgia Synod And The Presbyterian Church In The United States; Faith of Our Fathers; A Short History of the Diocese of Georgia; Biographies of the Grand Masters of the Grand Lodge of Georgia, F. & A.M.; History of the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Georgia, 1783–2013; Georgia Counties Named For Figures or Events of the American Revolution, 1775–1783; “Volunteer For Victory”: The Savannah–Chatham County Area In World War II; and Five Thousand Georgia Lawyers, 1733–1918. In 2008 the Sons of the American Revolution awarded him the Stephen Taylor Award for the person “who by his research and writings, has made a distinguished contribution to the preservation of the history of the American Revolutionary era and its Patriots”—only one such award being made each year. In 2010 the Atlanta Chapter of the Society of Colonial Wars awarded him its C. Sims Bray Literary Award, the first such award offered by that chapter.
He also published “The Land of the Morning Calm; Freemasonry in the Republic of Korea,” Scottish Rite Journal, 103 (1) (Washington, DC: The Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, January 1995); “The Rural Masonic Association,” Masonic Messenger, 83 (1) (Macon, GA: Grand Lodge of Georgia, February 1999); “Dr. James B. Randall, 1795–1881, Editor of The Masonic Journal,” Masonic Messenger, 92 (3) (Macon GA: Grand Lodge of Georgia, June 2008); “The British Evacuate Savannah, Georgia,” The SAR Magazine, 101 (4) (Louisville, KY: National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, spring 2007); and “The Monument At Spring Hill Redoubt: A History of the Tribute to the Savannah Fallen,” Flintlock & Powderhorn Magazine Of The Sons Of The Revolution, Vol. 26 (4) (winter, 2008), and Vol. 27 (1) (spring, 2009).
In addition, he provided the details and documentation for the N.S.D.A.R. re-creation of Tondee’s Tavern; documented and assisted in the design of the personal escort (Georgia Hussars) for the inaugural parade for President Jimmy Carter; wrote the first draft of the play produced by Mercer University in celebration of the inauguration of President Carter; and documented the uniform of the Drummer of the 4th Battalion Georgia Continental Line for production as a pewter model by the Franklin Mint in honor of the Bicentennial. Also member of the Chatham County Police Department Historical Committee, and member of the Auxiliary to the Chatham County Police Department. He was former chairman, Chatham County Board of Elections (in which position, he successfully led the effort to computerize the voting machines of Chatham County); past member of the Tidelands Community Health Center Advisory Council (Certificate of Award for Distinguished Achievement); chairman, Savannah-Chatham County Historical Site and Monuments Commission and in the latter position he chaired the completion of a comprehensive system of monumentation in Savannah, as well as blocked the ruin of Oglethorpe Square by the World War II monument, which was erected instead on River Street); and past president of the Halcyon Bluff Community Association. He researched and documented the architectural history of numerous historic buildings in Savannah, wrote the inscriptions for the Iraq tablet to the Chatham Artillery Monument (Emmet Park, Savannah), the monument to the Capture of the Phillipa by the Liberty (the first naval capture of the American Revolution in southern waters; River Street, Savannah), marker stones to General Samuel Elbert and Colonel John White (Battle Park, Savannah, Georgia), monument to Battle of Vann’s Creek (Elbert County, Georgia), helped unveil the historical markers to Colonial Shipyard at Shipyard Creek at Beaulieu and the Jefferson Davis Highway on Highway 84 just west of the Altamaha River, and was the compiler of “Volunteer for Victory”: the Savannah–Chatham County Area in World War II.
Two children survived him: Raiford Laurence Smith of Lake Norman, Charlotte, North Carolina, Managing Director, Global Technology Development (China and Japan), Duke Energy; and Mrs. Evelyn Falligant (Smith) Fredericksen of Irvine, California, creative development senior director, Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. Raiford and his wife Dr. Stephanie Dale Smith have one child: Hannah Elisabeth Smith. Beau Smith’s brothers and sisters are Dr. Bruce Alexander Smith, pediatrician of Albany; Dr. Livingston Travis Smith, professor of dentistry of Appling; Dr. Christopher Campbell Smith, general surgeon of Albany; Judge Nancy Terrell Stephenson, attorney and judge of Dougherty County Probate Court of Albany; and Dr. Cecilia Darracott McKay, internal medicine specialist of Chapel Hill.