The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Meet Your Neighbor

by Susan Galbraith, Quill Reporter

Meet Your Neighbor Gary Smith, new Chief of Police in Stronghurst. He is also employed as Sr. Parole Agent with the Illinois Department of Corrections

Gary was born in Fort Madison, IA, raised in Blandinsville, and graduated from Northwestern H.S. in 1986 and continued his education at Western Illinois University, in Macomb 1986-87.

He enlisted in the Army and was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. He was deployed to Operation Desert Storm for 6 months and the first day of the ground war he was nominated by his platoon leader and approved through the Brigade Commander to receive the Bronze Star Medal and the Army Commendation with Valor Device. He was a gunner on an M1 tank and on the first day of the ground war he was in his tank and engaged two enemy bunkers which caused a mass surrender of 300 POW's.

On the fourth day of the ground war Gary said, "I went into Kuwait and had to disembark my tank and go into enemy bunkers which was pretty scary." From there he went to Safwan, Iraq, and was security for peace negotiations and the northern line of debarkation.

After returning home he then pursued his career by being employed by the IL Department of Corrections at the W.I.U. Correction Center in Mt. Sterling. During that time he was a tack team unit trainer and in-service trainer.

He has been in policing since 2001 and was one of the original officers to create the department in Blandinsville.

Gary is married to his bride Laurie, of 21 years who recently graduated with honors from Spoon River College with an associate's degree in Applied Science and Office Technology.

They are proud parents of two daughters, Jessica 19, a student at Western Illinois University, Macomb, and Ashley 13, an 8th grader at West Prairie.

Gary's father lives in Burlington, IA, his mother and step-dad live in Blandinsville. His mom is a homemaker and his step-dad is employed at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Ft. Madison, Iowa.

He has one step-brother, Troy Kempher who resides in Blandinsville; one half-sister, Wendy (Troy), Mossman that lives in Burlington, Iowa, and one half brother-Adam (Samantha) Smith. Adam is currently in the Army at Ft. Riley, Kansas and Samantha is residing in Burlington, Iowa.

Gary is an elder at the Blandinsville Christian Church and Laurie serves as a deaconess.

When asked about his hobbies Gary said, "My daughters sports activities. Jessica and Ashley are both involved in volleyball and softball and Laurie and I enjoy attending their games."

He recently purchased a motorcycle and he and Laurie have had fun riding together.

Gary stated, "I have been overwhelmed with the support from the Stronghurst community. When I was the Chief of Police in Blandinsville it took approximately one year to get everything set up, however, in Stronghurst the ordinance was passed this past summer and I accepted the position September 1. That was only 6 weeks to get everything organized and rolling. I look forward to serving your community."