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John T.
Republican SD

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  • Tribute to Jim Smith

    by Senator John Thune

    Posted on 2015-12-08

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    THUNE. Mr. President, today I wish to recognize the distinguished career of a great South Dakotan, Mr. Jim Smith.



    Jim was born in Aberdeen, SD, in 1930, and was raised in Pierre. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in 1952 before attending law school at George Washington University. While still in law school, Jim worked as an elevator operator in the U.S. Capitol until he became a legislative assistant to South Dakota Senator Karl Mundt. He eventually served as minority counsel to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations. Upon graduation from law school, Jim became the associate Federal legislative counsel at the American Bankers Association from 1963 to 1968.

    From 1969 to 1973, Jim headed the Treasury Department's Office of Congressional Relations, completing his tenure as Deputy Undersecretary of the Department under three separate Secretaries. In 1971, Jim was awarded the Alexander Hamilton Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Treasury Department. He was appointed by President Nixon as the 23rd U.S. Comptroller of the Currency in 1973, where he served until the end of the Ford Administration. Jim returned to the Midwest in 1977 to serve as the Executive Vice President of the First Chicago Corporation.

    In 1980, Jim reconnected with his old friend, Charls E. Walker, from their days at the American Bankers Association. Jim joined Mr. Walker's consulting firm, Charls Walker Associates, later renamed Walker/Free Associates, until he formed The Smith-Free Group with Jim Free in 1995. For the past 35 years, Jim has advocated for a diverse range of issues before the Federal Government, including pro bono efforts on behalf of victims of Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme.

    Jim came to Washington during President Eisenhower's administration, and his career has spanned 10 subsequent Presidents. His reputation as a modest, soft-spoken, and principled man is a testament to his South Dakota roots. He embodies the strong-willed, hard-working, and good- natured characteristics that all South Dakotans share; and his life story proves the continued resilience of the American Dream.

    Jim is retiring to spend more time with his wife of 37 years, Karen, along with his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I would like to thank him for his service to both South Dakota and the country and congratulate him on a well-deserved retirement. ____________________

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