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So long Smith

Repeka Nasiko
Thursday, August 02, 2012

A visionary, a catalyst, a mentor and generous. These were only some of the many words used to describe one of Fiji's most celebrated tourism pioneer as he was laid to rest on his beloved Musket Cove Resort yesterday.

Speaking at the funeral of the late Richard "Dick" Smith, Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association president Dixon Seeto said the man was a definitely a catalyst as he not only initiated projets and events but ensured they came to fruition.

"The words mentor, pioneer, visionary, icon, philanthropist, developer, catalyst and capitalist all aptly describe Dick," said Mr Seeto.

Mr Seeto remembered his first encounter with the hotel owner, where he referred to him as "Mr Smith".

"I greeted him as Mr Smith. He responded, "that's my father's name, please call me Dick". This showed me immediately the humility and down to earth nature of this great man," said Mr Seeto.

His long-time friend and avid sailor, Jack Hargraves remembered him as someone who had a kind heart and always had time for everyone.

"I've know Dick since 1976 and for the period of time he has always been such a generous man and very friendly to us "yachties" who visit his island all the time," said Mr Hargraves.

"Because of Dick's love for yachts he created a perfect arena and bay for the boats to come in and be able to enjoy the beautiful surroundings at the Mamanuca islands.

"He was a great sailor and an adventurer but he also saw the tourism potential that was in yachts," said his close friend.

Another local tourism industry pioneer and fellow Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards board of trustee member, Gerald Barrack said the tourism sector had lost a great icon in Dick Smith.

"We're farewelling a man who was an icon of Fiji Tourism who I have known for the last 50 years. In recent years after working with him on the Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards board on which he was the founding member, I saw that he was a great man to head something so unique as the tourism awards.

"Mr Smith was not only a leader of the tourism industry but he was also a visionary which saw the development of island resorts on the Malolo islands.

"He was also a man who also shared what he had which he did by sponsoring various projects in local schools and communities," said Mr Barrack.

He said Dick's generosity would live on through the various community projects that he was involved in.

Also joining in praising the life of the man who founded Fiji's first ever island resort was Attorney-General and Minister of Tourism Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum who remembered Mr Smith as someone who supported government's reforms of the tourism industry.

"He was indeed a father and a constant advocate of the tourism industry and its development," said Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.

"Words aren't enough to capture or to highlight the achievements of a man like this," he said.

One of his closest friends and a great tourism industry great himself — former Shangri-La's Fiji Resort managing director Radike Qereqeretabua described Dick's send off on a small mountaintop overlooking the island's airstrip on a sunny August 1 as a perfect day for him.

"This day was simple, moving and beautiful and typical of Dick Smith," said Mr Qereqeretabua.

More than 300 tourism executives, friends and close family members gathered on the island to farewell Mr Smith.

He is survived by his wife, Carol and daughter, Josie. He was 81.

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