Holley Hall of Fame Inductee Charlie Smith:  Humble hero grateful to others for his sports achievements

By on January 1, 1970

by Doug Hickerson

Charlie Smith stands at the Holley High School Alumni Wall of Fame. He was inducted on January 25. He holds his personal plaque which is smaller than the one on the wall. “A cold, snowy night did not keep family, friends and teammates from honoring Charlie Smith with a standing ovation after his acceptance speech,” Lorie Bowers said. She had attended the Alumni Wall of Fame induction ceremony between the JV and Varsity basketball games at Holley High School on January 25. She praised his speech as “heartfelt, gracious, and inspiring.”

Former teammates had nominated the 1974 Holley High graduate, now 57 and living in North Chili with his wife, Karen. Kevin Lynch, who knew Charlie since sixth grade, was one of those teammates and gave the introductory comments. He cited Charlie’s outstanding sports record, including letters in 11 out of 12 possible sports, and called him “probably the most complete athlete on the Wall of Fame, talented in all sports.” (See side bar).

Charlie’s gracious speech turned his glory into a litany of gratitude to his former coaches, parents, and teammates: “Without them, I wouldn’t be here receiving this honor today.” He thanked his coaches “who made me work hard and expected more of me than I ever thought was possible.” He paid tribute to his deceased parents. To his former teammates present, he said, “If it wasn’t for you this would be impossible,” and thanked them for their friendship which lasted over 40 years.

As sure proof of Charlie’s sincerity, when he first learned about his nomination, he phoned his baseball coach in Texas and his soccer coach in South Carolina. They had not nominated him; he was thanking them for their role in bringing this honor to him. He phoned Betty Draper in Brockport, the widow of his basketball coach Bill Draper. “You guys were a big part of my life,” he said to Betty. “We thought of you as a son,” she responded. Betty Draper was present at Charlie’s honoring event and he thanked her in his comments.

Charlie’s sense of team work was not left in the past. He is a project superintendent with Holdsworth Klimowski Construction headquartered in Henrietta. Much of his work is in hospitals, expanding and renovating operating and MRI rooms to receive the latest high tech equipment. Charlie said, “I am the team leader, but I am probably the only supervisor who actually puts on the tool belt and gets his hands dirty.” Keith Bowers, also a project superintendent with Charlie’s company, said in a phone call, “He is a working foreman. He doesn’t ask anybody to do anything he wouldn’t do himself.” Keith attended the Wall of Fame ceremony with his wife, Lorie. “He is a very gifted carpenter to begin with, and he is a pleasure to be around,” Keith added. “Everybody loves the guy.” Charlie used to be one of Keith’s carpenters, “but worked his way up to superintendent,” Keith said with admiration for the former star athlete who still carries a winning attitude.

Charlie’s final words that night at Holley High brought the audience to their feet with resounding applause: “I leave with a last message to all the student athletes. A lot of people here knew my mom and dad. If they could be here, they would be very proud. They sacrificed a lot, gave up a lot of their time so I could be successful in sports. And they loved their Holley sports. They never missed a game.

Students, there are many people around you who sacrifice their time to give you a lot of support. So I wish one thing tonight: That when you get home, or in the stands tonight, you thank the people who make those sacrifices and give you all that support. They need to hear it.

I am humbled because that wall has many great people. I am honored to receive this great award and I hope that I am worthy.”

Charles “Charlie” Smith 1970 – 1974

Four years Varsity Soccer

Two time G-O All-Star 1972 and 1974

1974 Co-Captain and 1974 MVP

Three years Varsity Basketball

One time G-O All-Star 1974

1974 Co-Captain and 1974 MVP

Four years Varsity Baseball

Two time G-O All-Star 1973 and 1974

1974 Co-Captain and 1974 MVP

1974 Sportsmanship Award

“Nobody is more important than the team.”

Rejean Houle 2001

“Many thanks to all my family, friends, coaches and most of all teammates.”

Above is the wording of Charlie Smith’s plaque on the Holley High School Alumni Wall of Fame. “G-O” refers to Genesee-Orlenas County. The last two lines were added by Charlie. His acceptance speech included the Rejean Houle quotation. Houle is a Montreal Canadian hockey player.