Richard Smith, president of Nagelbush Mechanical, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Mechanical Hub advisory board member, passes away at the age of 76.
Dick was the youngest of eight children born in Newport, Ky. He leaves behind his beloved wife of 50 years, Maureen, son David and daughter Laura Persico and son Michael; sister Dorothy Smith Walker and brother Robert; eight grandchildren and five step-granddaughters.
Dick moved to south Florida in 1957 as a plumbing apprentice. He was initiated in Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 719 in February 1959. In 1960, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. After serving, Dick continued pursuing his plumbing career where he quickly rose through the ranks to become supervisor, instructor and eventual business agent and business manager of the Local in the ’70s.
For 30 years, Dick was the president of Nagelbush Mechanical, Inc. where his achievements resulted in the successful construction of the most prestigious and significant projects that blanket the tri-county area and the Southeast over the last quarter century. As a member of numerous construction associations over the years, Dick’s passion was toward training and the modernization of the plumbing industry while preserving quality tradesmanship.
He served as the president of the Plumbing & Mechanical Contractors Association of South Florida for 15 years. Dick was appointed as the plumbing representative for the Broward County Board of Rules and Appeals by The League of Cities and served in that position for 20 years.
With all of his successes, his greatest achievement was the priceless mentoring and encouragement given to his dedicated staff and crew. His ability to empathize, communicate ideas and resolve problems made him a pleasure for which to work. Dick was highly respected and reputation in the industry afforded him a lifetime of friendships with customers and business associates.
His joy in life was infectious; he also had a quick and sharp wit. He could belt out a tune with the best of them and tell a story or a make a joke about almost anything. Dick was exceptionally personable, hospitable, smart, funny, sympathetic, helpful, and a true Southern gentleman.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I was fortunate to spend time with Dick on an overseas contractor trip. I distinctly remember picking him up a hotel in Boston where a group of friends had gathered as a reunion from the Germany trip. He was in the parking lot with the entire wedding party—who had gathered for the reception—where he had them in stitches, and making new friends. He was great at that.
He truly was a great man, full of life, laughter, love and, yes, he loved to tell stories. He was always the life of the party and he sorely will be missed.