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Valley Lives - Rory Smith

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the December 13, 2017 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Community gentleman with a generous spirit

By Ben Bulmer

In over three decades working as the head maître d' at one of Ottawa's most prestigious restaurants, Hy's Steakhouse, Wakefielder Rory Smith never once repeated a word of the private conversations he'd overheard while serving the capital's elite. From politicians to hockey players, Rory took his clients' confidentiality very seriously

Sue Graham
Rory Smith is remembered by brother Randy as a man who did everything with a big smile and always had the most fun he could. Photo courtesy Randy Smith.

"He would mention who he'd served," said Rory's brother, Randy Smith, "but to share something he'd overhead, I never heard a thing." Randy describes his brother as "full of life and very, very generous in spirit," and "very much the life of the party and a very caring, gentle person." Rory made friends quickly and kept them, charming people with his gracious character, sense of humour, and distinctive raucous laugh. Rory passed away after a three-year fight with cancer on Dec. 3.

Born in England in 1955, Rory spent his childhood years travelling around with his Foreign Service parents and five siblings. He spent time in Moscow and Paris before the family finally returned to Canada and settled in Aylmer in 1967. Having spent so much time away in his early years, Randy said community meant a lot to Rory, who lived in the Gatineau Hills for over 20 years and loved the community and the friends he made.

A passionate sports fan, Rory played hockey in Europe as a child and football for Philemon Wright High School when he returned to Canada. Randy describes his brother as a "gentleman golfer" who was always a pleasure to play a round with - he continued to hit the green until just two months before he passed away. Whether he was skiing or just walking the dog, Randy said Rory did everything with a big smile and had the most fun he could.

Sue Graham
Rory Smith and his five siblings pictured in 1961, were born in England but moved around Europe before returning to Canada in 1967. Photo courtesy Randy Smith.

Wakefielder Paulette Saltman met Rory a decade ago, but they grew close when the pair became roommates in 2016. Saltman was receiving chemotherapy for cancer herself and credits Rory for helping her through it. "It was very inspiring for me," said Saltman. "Rory was a great inspiration. He got up every morning determined to make the most of that day." Saltman has had the all-clear for her cancer and is very grateful for all the support he gave her, remembering his "very infectious laugh," and that he "put the gentle in gentleman."

It's a sentiment Edelweiss resident Jeff Smith echoes. "He was truly a gentleman, [and] a great guy to be around." Even when he was in pain, he managed to laugh and smile, said Jeff, who describes his friend as a "very caring and compassionate human being."

Randy's daughter Kate describes her uncle as being about "fun, adventure, and laughter," and "pleases and thank yous" and doing what was right.

Rory didn't marry and had no children, but Randy said, "he would have made the greatest dad."


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