The passing of longtime Gloucester firefighter Michael Smith over the weekend is obviously a devastating loss for his family and his many, many friends.
But it is also another loss felt by our entire community — a community that has again, as with the stunning January loss of Police officer Aran Patrican, been hit with the passing of one of our most loyal public servants, and one who truly knew the meaning of that term.
On the job, Smith, gone far too soon at the age of 43, didn't hesitate to risk his own safety on several counts — including last December, when he was fighting a blaze on Poplar Street that drove several people from their home and had to be transported himself to Addison Gilbert Hospital after being hit with falling debris.
In the community, Smith also went the extra mile and more. First diagnosed with cancer in 2000, he underwent treatment and was in remission. So, in the following years, he took on the role of forming and leading a team in Gloucester's Relay for Life, the annual event that remembers those lost to cancer, celebrates cancer survivors, and raises money to support continued cancer research.
Smith, diagnosed with another form of cancer this past March, couldn't make the Relay this year, and lost his brave fight on Saturday. But his spirit will long be remembered.
"Mike would be the first one to step up and help out one of his comrades if they were in need," Deputy Chief Steve Aiello said prior to this year's Relay, citing Smith's "exceptional work ethic and his keen sense of humor."
Our hearts and condolences go out to Smith's family, and all of his colleagues at the Gloucester Fire Department, which he served for 17 years.
May he find the eternal peace he so richly deserves — and may his loved ones know that our entire community shares their profound sense of loss.