Clarence Smith, Business and Philanthropic Leader, Dead at 92

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Clarence R. Smith Jr., the retired chairman and CEO of Compco Industries, died this morning at age 92. His passing was peaceful, say friends of the family: “He just slipped away.”

Funeral arrangements have not be released as of this posting.

Smith earned numerous accolades during his lifetime for his philanthropic spirit. But he was as unassuming as he was kind, deeply faithful and dedicated to the prosperity of the community where he grew up — Boardman — and the entire Mahoning Valley.

Smith’s father, Clarence R. Smith Sr., founded of Diamond Steel Construction Co., which ultimately became an affiliate of Compco. While a junior studying at Kenyon College, his father suffered a stroke. Clarence, known as “Smitty,” quit school and returned home to take control of the family business.

Through the years, the business expanded and grew in diverse directions. Smith’s father was a collector of fine gemstones, which his son continued to treasure. The gems were on display at the former Adamas Fine Jewelry & Gifts at Market Street and McClurg Road in Boardman.

Smith served on the board of directors of numerous civic, religious and nonprofit organizations. Among them were what was then the Youngstown Area Chamber of Commerce, the Boy Scouts of America, Camp Stambaugh, the Mahoning County Library Board and the Western Reserve Port Authority. He also was an active member of the Youngstown Shrine Club and hosted annual picnics at its pavilion on South Range Road in North Lima, which were attended by hundreds of Compco employees, his friends and political associates. And he was deeply involved in his church, the Boardman United Methodist Church and most recently Greenford Christian Church in Green Township and its Big Reach Center of Hope.

Smith also was the chairman of the Mahoning County Republican Party, ran for the Ohio House of Representatives and was a dedicated benefactor for GOP candidates seeking local, state and national offices. He frequently was a delegate to the Republican National Committee’s presidential nominating conventions.

Among the many entrepreneurial ventures he supported and helped to launch was the fledgling Youngstown Publishing Co., which was founded in 1984.

Smith and his right-hand man, the late Arnold Collins, became investors in the company, which publishes The Business Journal, in 1986. In so doing, they saved the newspaper from going bankrupt. As the publication grew, he continued to provide support then sold his shares to co-founder Andrea Wood.

Why was he giving us money knowing he might never get any return? Wood asked.

“We need another newspaper in Youngstown,” he said. “We need some good news.”

Smith is survived by his wife Rose Marie, his son Greg and twin daughters Gwen Smith-Darnell, Gail Smith and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

For more on the death of Clarence Smith, read tomorrow’s edition of BusinessJournalDaily.com.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.