Legendary Lexington figure James “Smitty” Smith dies


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The City of Lexington has lost a dear friend.  James “Smitty” Smith died Tuesday at the age of 89.  He would have turned 90 on May 2.

He grew up in the small Clark County community of Indian Fields during segregation.

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In Lexington, he worked 28-years in the Office of Fayette County Sheriff, primarily in the Court Services Division.

But for generations of people, he will be remembered as the man who greeted them with his infectious smile at Columbia Steak House on North Limestone.  He worked there on-and-off for decades.

Even if you only met him once, you would never forget him because he was such a kind, gracious soul.

In a May 2017 article in the Lexington Herald-Leader, Smitty shared his life philosophy with writer Cheryl Truman:  “God will take care of you. Do your best, treat people the way you wish to be treated, and the master will take care of you.”

Here is the social media post from Columbia Steak House:

It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing of James Smith, better know as “Smitty “.

Smitty was a legendary figure of the downtown Lexington dining scene for decades. His kind nature and boundless hospitality welcomed guests at the North Limestone Columbia’s for many years. His trademark “uniform “…his tuxedo…was a touch of panache that he wore as the most popular and beloved of Lexington residents. Smitty delighted In managing the crowds that waited in line for a Nighthawk Special, whether it was a date night, family celebration, or just a quick meal.

Today, we take a moment to reflect on our memories of a truly unique and, now, much missed member of our community and Columbia’s family.

Here, another post from the Office of Fayette County Sheriff:

With fondness, we celebrate the life of our dear friend, and fellow team member, James L. “Smitty” Smith.

Smitty’s kind spirit and presence as a humble public servant will be deeply missed in the community of Lexington and particularly here at the Office of Sheriff.  In our office today, we realized everyone has a Smitty story.

*Note:  The photo of James “Smitty” Smith that accompanies this story is courtesy of the Office of Fayette County Sheriff.