Chester H. Smith

Chester H. Smith

Chester H. "Chet" Smith, 85, a legislative aide for several U.S. senators from Nevada, died Feb. 22 at Mount Vernon Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Alexandria after brain surgery to remove a cancerous tumor.

Mr. Smith worked for Democratic Sens. Edward P. Carville, Patrick A. McCarran and Alan H. Bible between 1945 and 1956. He was Bible's campaign manager in four races. He was known as "the third senator from Nevada."

Mr. Smith served as Nevada's budget director in the early 1950s and vice chairman of the Nevada Democratic Central Committee in the late 1950s.

He also worked on presidential campaign staffs of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson in '60 and '64 along with being an advanceman for presidential trips of President Johnson.

Mr. Smith was born in Burns, Ore., in 1919 and grew up in Winnemucca, Nev. In 1939, he became the youngest newspaper editor in the United States when he took over the Humboldt Star in Winnemucca.

During World War II, he served in the Marine Corps as a combat correspondent with the 5th Marine Division in the Pacific including Iwo Jima, earning the Purple Heart, Navy Commendation and Presidential Unit Citation. While there he witnessed the raising of the American Flag over Iwo Jima by his comrades.

Before his discharge, he also edited the first daily newspaper published in Japan for U.S. occupation forces.

He graduated from George Washington University in 1948 and received a law degree in 1950 from GWU's law school, later becoming a member of the Old Guard, distinguished law school alumnus of 50 years. He joined the Las Vegas law firm, Cory, Denton & Smith, in the 1950s.

He became chief clerk of the Senate Committee on the District of Columbia in 1959, then its staff director and counsel from 1960 until 1968. From 1969 to 1974, he was staff director and general counsel to the Senate Committee on Small Business. He then became chief counsel to the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. He retired in 1979.

His first wife, Elizabeth Harrison Pence, whom he married in 1948, died in 1974. His second wife, Miriam O'Dell Fox, died in 2000.

Survivors include two daughters from the first marriage, Anne Elizabeth Ponsen of Alexandria and Sandy Harrison Hilburn of Greenville, S.C.; and three grandchildren.