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Former colleague remembers Toy Fund founder as humble

  • Jim Hogan, center, accompanied here by his son Mike, right, shares a laugh with Daily Hampshire Gazette pressman John Raymer during a visit to the newsroom Wednesday. The elder Hogan knew Sidney F. Smith from his time working at the newspaper.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Jim Hogan, center, accompanied here by his son Mike, right, shares a laugh with Daily Hampshire Gazette pressman John Raymer during a visit to the newsroom Wednesday. The elder Hogan knew Sidney F. Smith from his time working at the newspaper.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jim Hogan, left, accompanied here by his son Mike, offers his remembrances of Sidney F. Smith, with whom he worked at the Daily Hampshire Gazette.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Jim Hogan, left, accompanied here by his son Mike, offers his remembrances of Sidney F. Smith, with whom he worked at the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jim Hogan, left, accompanied here by his son Mike, offers his remembrances of Sidney F. Smith, with whom he worked at the Daily Hampshire Gazette.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Jim Hogan, left, accompanied here by his son Mike, offers his remembrances of Sidney F. Smith, with whom he worked at the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jim Hogan, who began working at the Daily Hampshire Gazette in the 1940s, knew Sidney F. Smith from their time together at the newspaper.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Jim Hogan, who began working at the Daily Hampshire Gazette in the 1940s, knew Sidney F. Smith from their time together at the newspaper.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jim Hogan, center, accompanied here by his son Mike, right, shares a laugh with Daily Hampshire Gazette pressman John Raymer during a visit to the newsroom Wednesday. The elder Hogan knew Sidney F. Smith from his time working at the newspaper.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Jim Hogan, left, accompanied here by his son Mike, offers his remembrances of Sidney F. Smith, with whom he worked at the Daily Hampshire Gazette.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Jim Hogan, left, accompanied here by his son Mike, offers his remembrances of Sidney F. Smith, with whom he worked at the Daily Hampshire Gazette.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Jim Hogan, who began working at the Daily Hampshire Gazette in the 1940s, knew Sidney F. Smith from their time together at the newspaper.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

— When James Hogan brought in his family’s donation to the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund earlier this week, he knew exactly how he wanted the contribution listed in the paper, and why.

The donation should read in memory of Sidney F. Smith, he told Gazette receptionist Nancy Rhoades.

“I think it’s only fair,” Hogan said. “You never see a donation in memory of him.”

At 81, Hogan, of Northampton, is one of the few surviving former Daily Hampshire Gazette employees who knew and worked with Smith, who died in 1973.

In 1933, Smith, who was the business manager at the newspaper, founded the fund that now bears his name. Though Smith didn’t marry until late in life and never had children of his own, Hogan said “Sid” was a “kind-hearted” man who simply wanted children to have a good Christmas.

In its first year, with the country in the grips of the Great Depression, the fund raised $200. Smith’s idea was to collect old toys, repair and spruce them up, and give them to children of families that couldn’t afford to buy presents.

Now in its 80th year, the fund provides certificates redeemable at participating local retailers to eligible families who can use them to buy holiday gifts through Dec. 31. The fund distributes vouchers valued at $40 to families for each child from age 1 to 14.

Hogan started working at the Gazette in 1946, when he was just 15 years old and the newspaper was housed on Armory Street in downtown Northampton.

During his years at the paper, Hogan worked as a typesetting machinist during a 52-year career that began in the age of lead type and ended after the arrival of computers.

Smith, Hogan said, “was a humble guy.” It wasn’t like Smith to make a big deal of having started the fund, Hogan said — and he would likely be overwhelmed today to learn of its longevity and its size. This year’s goal is to raise $80,000.

In his role as business manager, Smith arrived at the Gazette every day wearing a suit and tie and — without fail — well-shined shoes, Hogan said.

“He was always dressed very proper,” added Hogan’s son, Michael, 48.

Smith could be gruff and sometimes got angry if things went wrong at work, according to Jim Hogan. He was direct, a quality Hogan liked. “If he had anything to say, he’d say it to you,” he recalled.

Smith, as former Gazette employees have said, had a good sense of humor, a keen eye for investments and a knack for making those around him feel appreciated. He would often arrive at the paper carrying boxes of freshly baked doughnuts to share all around.

But Smith probably showed his softest side to kids.

When he and his brother, Timothy, were little, Michael Hogan recalled, they would on occasion come into the paper for one reason or another with their mother, Pat.

For two elementary-school age boys, those visits were a very big deal, Michael Hogan said — and it was Smith who made them that way.

No sooner were the boys at the doorway than Smith would come to greet them. Offering one his right hand and the other his left, Smith would walk the two young tykes through the building, making sure anyone who hadn’t met them before got the chance to say hello to Jimmy Hogan’s boys.

“We felt like royalty,” Mike Hogan said.

In his position as right-hand man to Gazette publisher Harriet DeRose, Smith earned the loyalty of the paper’s employees, Jim Hogan said. He treated people well, he said, and was known to quietly offer help to anyone who was going through a tough time, financially or otherwise.

Though Hogan’s primary job was to help produce the paper every day, he also pitched in with other tasks, such as plowing the parking lot after a storm.

On occasion, he said, he would, at Smith’s request, run an errand or two. Smith loved pistachio ice cream and would sometimes ask Hogan if he could stop in town and get him some. Sometimes, when the list was longer, Hogan said he’d drive Harriet DeRose and Smith around — DeRose in the back seat, Smith in the front — while they did their errands.

On Sundays, after church, the Hogans would stop in town to pick up a coffee and copies of the Springfield, Boston and New York papers. Then they’d drive them over to 289 Elm St., where Smith boarded for many years in a room at the DeRose family home. Smith would always try to sneak the Hogan boys a dollar or two, Mike Hogan said, but their father — sometimes to their chagrin — usually made them give it back.

Smith moved to Northampton from Milton in the late 1920s. According to a 2008 Gazette story, Smith urged Harriet DeRose to buy the Gazette in 1929 and over the years he became almost a member of the DeRose family. At the house on Elm Street, he often handled many of the preparations for Sunday’s roast beef dinner, and he helped care for Harriet DeRose during her later years.

Smith died in 1973 at age 84.

When he came to the Gazette several days ago, Hogan, who has battled serious health problems in recent years, said he wanted to “set something right” by making sure that Smith was remembered this year.

“Maybe it’s time,” he said.

Related

Toy Fund donors list for Dec. 24

Monday, December 24, 2012

These are the latest donors to the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund. Donations may be made online at toyfund.gazettenet.com. Anonymous $48  With love from Oliver on my very first Christmas $15  For Newtown $25  In loving memory of Frank A. Gerlip from Joe and Judy Gerlip and family Merry Christmas $20  In memory of Robert K. Finn from the Gerlip family $20  In loving memory … 0

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