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Local News

James V. Smith remembered for his friendship and civic involvement

James Smith, who died Wednesday, seen at a 2016 meeting of the Rialto Square Theatre board in 2016 before he resigned after 20 years on the board that he also chaired at one time.
James Smith, who died Wednesday, seen at a 2016 meeting of the Rialto Square Theatre board in 2016 before he resigned after 20 years on the board that he also chaired at one time.

James V. Smith is being remembered for his devotion to the Rialto Square Theatre and numerous other activities in Joliet including local hockey.

He died Wednesday at the age of 72 after contracting the COVID-19 virus.

Smith owned the James V. Smith & Associates appraisal and real estate business in downtown Joliet where he was a familiar figure because of his civic involvement and volunteerism in downtown events.

Smith served for 20 years on the board of the Will County Metropolitan Exposition and Authority, which oversees the Rialto, and was its chairman at one time. He resigned from the Rialto board in 2016 and then joined the board of the foundation that supports the Rialto. He was the secretary of the foundation board at the time of his death.

"Jim was one of those guys who always wanted to give back," said Steve Randich, president of the Rialto Square Theatre Foundation. "He wasn't looking for a lot of accolades and awards. But he was always working behind the scenes."

Smith also was a board member of the City Center Partnership, which promotes downtown Joliet, the Joliet Area Historical Museum, and the Will County Center for Economic Development.

He achieved a record of 29 years of perfect attendance with the Joliet Rotary Club and had served on the board for the Greater Joliet Area YMCA for 20 years, according to his obituary.

Smith was known as an avid boater.

"We called him captain from time to time," said Robert Filotto, a friend and business associate of Smith and now the chairman of the Rialto board. "Jim definitely will be missed."

Filotto, a business evaluation consultant, said Smith had a good reputation for his appraisal work, and the two would refer work to each other.

Lesser known was Smith's hockey pursuits in his younger days.

He was the hockey coach at Lewis University and took a team to Europe in the 1970s when invited to participate in a tournament that included games in Sweden and Denmark.

Dave Kump, a longtime friend and former hockey player, met Smith when he was forming the Joliet Prep Hockey League in 1973 while coaching a team at Joliet East High School, his alma mater but a school that no longer exists.

Kump remembered Smith doing double-duty at a Naperville ice rink that he also managed.

"He was a player on some of the teams," Kump said. "It wasn't unusual that in between periods, we'd be in the locker room and Jim would be on the Zamboni cleaning the ice."

Visitation for Smith will be 9 a.m. Tuesday at Blackburn-Gingrich-Sonntag Funeral Home with a service at the funeral home at 11 a.m. officiated by Brother James Gaffney, former president of Lewis University.

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