Monday, December 5, 2011

My Visit With The Smiths

Yesterday I was very proud and humbled to have been invited to spend an afternoon in the home of Ron and June Smith in Shrewsbury, PA.
It was my first-ever visit to the Smith home.  In light of the circumstances, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as I trekked up I-83. What I found was a house full of family and friends supporting Ron with their presence.  The atmosphere was not gloomy or morose. In fact, it was very loving, low-key and positive.
There were a lot of WBAL people there, as you might expect, including General Manager Ed Kiernan, Amelia of “Mickey and Amelia,” and longtime 98 Rock personality Sarah Fleischer (had never met her before despite hearing her voice for years...not only very sweet, but kind of a looker…but I digress).
And, of course, in the midst of it were Ron and June, who shared with me some of the letters they received from Ron’s legion of fans, both the famous and non-famous alike. They gave me permission to quote some of the well wishes Ron has received.
Perhaps the most intriguing letter was one sent by Senator Barbara Mikulski - no ideological cohort of Smith. In addition to her warm note, the senator called Ron and shared war stories with him. He was very touched by the gesture.
Judge Richard D. Bennett praised Ron for setting a standard of “civility and intellectual honesty which few of your colleagues can match.”
Baltimore Ravens Coach John Harbaugh called Ron, “a man of great courage and selflessness.”
“You aren’t partisan,” one longtime listener wrote. “You see it as a battle between the Stupid Party and the Evil Party.”
Another wrote, “While we don’t always agree with your opinions, we have always respected them, and you.”
One letter, simply addressed to “Ron Smith, WBAL Guy, Shrewsbury, PA” found its way to him, anyway.

I could keep on quoting.
Before I left I had the chance to deliver my own tribute, face to face, to a man I have admired for so long.
“I hope you realize how much you mean to people,” I told him. “You’re very much a living presence in their minds right now.” He smiled and said he did.
“You know, Richard,” his wife said as she walked me to the door. “You’re a bad boy but a good man.”
Thanks, June. That may be the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. But don’t tell too many people. I have a reputation for misanthropy to protect.

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