Sparks Mayor Ron Smith Leaves a Legacy

Published: Aug. 19, 2020 at 6:28 PM PDT
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SPARKS, Nev. (KOLO) - The city of Sparks is mourning the death of Mayor Ron Smith who died at the age of 71 following a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer.

Smith was on his fourth term on the city council when--in 2018--he was sworn in as Mayor replacing Geno Martini who was retiring mid-term for health reasons. During that time he had built a reputation for hard work and dedication to his hometown.

Councilman Ed Lawson--who, as Mayor Pro Tem, automatically succeeds him--says Smith was a mentor and close friend.

“I’d come to him and say ‘Hey, I’ve an idea. What do you think?’ and he’d say “That’s a great idea or Ed that’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard. I enjoyed the frankness of our relationship and I think that’s why we remained good friends.”

Smith leaves his wife, Karen, four children and nine grandchildren.

He also leaves a lasting mark on his hometown in infrastructure projects he championed to make it work better and stay safer.

“A lot of people don’t realize just how instrumental he was in flood mitigation and the flood board,” says Lawson. “Acquisition of property and working with the Corps of Engineers and all that. So, his fingerprints are on that.”

“The Southeast Connector is there because of Ron Smith,” says Councilman Kristopher Dahir. “He did a lot of work over here on Pyramid and McCarran. That was Ron’s pushing.All those things are good, but they don’t have the heart that this has,” he says, standing at the partially built Nevada Veterans Memorial Plaza at the Sparks Marina.. “This thing touched his heart so much.”

Smith, a Navy veteran was the project’s director. When completed it will bear the names of the nearly 900 Nevada veterans who died in battle.

“Part of it was he really wanted to make sure these veterans were honored,” says Dahir, “but a secondary piece that we talked about is making sure that to the generations to come this story was told.”

Details of a memorial service are pending. In lieu of flowers, his family is asking for donations to the Veterans Memorial Plaza Project at

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