Longtime Harvard police officer dies

HARVARD – The visitation will be this weekend for a longtime member of the Harvard Police Department who died Wednesday.

Ronald E. Smith, 61, retired as a staff sergeant in 1997 after serving the department for 26 years, holding positions from a patrol officer to interim chief. He then worked as a substitute teacher at Harvard schools.

“Ron Smith was my field training officer; I rode with him every day for a number of weeks,” Police Chief Dan Kazy-Garey said. “Ron was dedicated to the job and the community, and that’s one of the reasons he became an officer.”

Smith had several letters of commendation, including for the investigation and arrests related to two drugstore robberies. He also was given another commendation for helping save two residents trapped in a burning building, Kazy-Garey said.

Smith’s wife of more than 40 years, Jane, said her husband was her rock.

“You could depend on him for support,” she said. “He was always there; he believed in people, he encouraged people, and he was modest about his own qualities.”

She said he had a mischievous sense of humor and a smile that would light up a room.

“He would say something, and all of a sudden everybody would be on the floor,” she said. “When our son became an attorney, he said to him, ‘Oh no, my own flesh and blood, a lawyer. Could you be something honest like a used car salesman?’ ”

The couple recently bought a house in Texas, where they had been staying for the winter. They planned to return to Illinois in the spring.

Smith had taken up golf and enjoyed playing with friends, as well as traveling to places such as Cancun, Mexico, and the Caribbean, his wife said.

Smith graduated from Woodstock High School and attended Northern Illinois University, later finishing his degree in sociology and criminology through Rockford College.

The visitation will be from 2 to 7 p.m. Sunday at Saunders & McFarlin Funeral Home, 107 W. Sumner St., Harvard.

The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Monday at the funeral home. Burial will be in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Harvard.

• A full obituary appears on page 6B.

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