Riverhead Town Justice Allen Smith, who was in public service for most of his 77 years, died Saturday at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore after suffering a brain aneurism. He had suffered a heart attack earlier this year but had recovered.
“Justice Smith devoted his entire life to public service,” said Town Supervisor Yvette M. Aguiar. “A pillar of the community, he brought integrity and rectitude to all of Riverhead,” she said, adding that he was a former Riverhead Town Supervisor, town attorney and assistant Suffolk County district attorney.
“The entire town of Riverhead mourns his loss, our sympathy and our deepest thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends at this time,” the supervisor said.
According to the Riverhead Republican Party website, Smith was born in Greenport Hospital on June 18, 1943, and grew up in Riverhead.
Smith was a town attorney, then successfully ran for Town Supervisor in 1975, a post he was re-elected to in 1977. After losing his bid for a third term in 1979, he joined the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, before he opened his own law practice in Riverhead.
In 2000, Riverhead Town Justice Henry Saxtein passed away, and Smith was appointed to fill out the last few months of his term. That fall, he was elected to the bench as one of Riverhead’s two judges and has been re-elected every four years since.
In recent elections, he has been cross endorsed and has run unopposed, as he was for what would have been his re-election to a sixth term this November.
Since 2003, he has served as one of two judges, along with Southampton’s Justice Deborah Kooperstein, at the East End Regional Intervention Drug Court, which helps give addicts facing criminal charges a second chance.
“For over 18 years he and I worked closely together, traveled together and attended trainings all over the country. We became friends. We talked about many things candidly and openly. He meant a great deal to me and I will miss him very much,” Kooperstein said, adding she was still grappling with the loss of two Southampton Town Justice Court colleagues earlier this year.
A longtime volunteer fireman, Justice Smith served for many years with the Red Bird Hook and Ladder Company. A graduate of Riverhead High School, he had also served on the Riverhead School Board and was a member of the Riverhead Rotary Club.
In 2008, he said in a statement on the Riverhead Republicans website, “It has been my pleasure and privilege to serve the People of the Town of Riverhead as your Town Justice. I enjoy this job thoroughly. Every day presents new challenges and opportunities. I promise that I will work hard to the best of my abilities, to serve the People of the Town of Riverhead.”
A viewing will be held at the Riverhead Fire Department on Wednesday and Thursday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. There will be a drive-thru set up due to COVID-19.
A private burial will be held on Friday.
Services were entrusted to the Tuthill-Mangano Funeral Home in Riverhead.