George T. Smith, a veteran Georgia politician and jurist who served at the heights of all three branches of Georgia’s government and continued practicing law long after he left public office, has died at the age of 93, his wife said.
Smith, who died Monday evening of natural causes, holds the unique honor in Georgia of having served as speaker of the Georgia House, lieutenant governor, and a member of the Georgia Court of Appeals and the Georgia Supreme Court. Even after he stepped down from the bench in 1991, he continued practicing law until weeks before his death, friends say.
“He did just about everything — not only in his life but his legal career,” said Tyler Browning, an associate at Smith’s Marietta firm Browning & Smith. “It’s safe to say he wasn’t cheated out of any experiences in his life.”
Smith was born in Camilla, Ga., on October 15, 1916. He served in the Navy during World War II and then graduated from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, where he was elected the student body president. After earning his law degree and serving as solicitor in Grady County, he won election to the state House for the first time in 1959.
Four years later, he became the House’s speaker. But he gave up the gavel in 1967 when he was elected to Georgia’s No. 2 spot as lieutenant governor, where he presided over the state Senate for four years.
He rejoined the judicial branch in 1976, serving for five years on the Georgia Court of Appeals. He then was elected to the Georgia Supreme Court, helping shape the state’s legal policy from 1981 until he stepped down 10 years later. That’s when he revved up his private work, tackling cases that spanned from property law to public defense.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Smith family and friends.