March 24, 2018 5:34 PM


Chris Smith

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Chris Smith Biography

Chris Smith was born in Charleston, West Virginia on March 31st, 1939, as the fourth child of Eliza MacCorkle and Isaac Noyes Smith. He was a 1957 Charleston High School graduate, vice-president of the National Honor Society, and was a member of the Charleston High School Student Council. During his senior year, Chris's basketball team won the Kanawha Valley Conference Championship, advanced to the West Virginia State Tournament Championship, and lost to Beckley, who had won the West Virginia State Championship for five of the past eight years. Chris was selected both to the First Team All-Tournament Team and to the First Team 1957 All-State Team. He received athletic or academic scholarships from several colleges and universities.

Chris then played basketball for Virginia Tech, and he received a chemical engineering degree from Virginia Tech by graduating with Tau Beta Pi Honors in 1961. During the 1961 NBA Draft, Chris was selected as the highest NBA draft choice ever for any Virginia Tech basketball player. In 1982, Chris was the only basketball player inducted as a charter member to Virginia Tech's Hall-of-Fame. He still holds several rebounding records for Virginia Tech, the State of Virginia, the Southern Conference, and he is the 24th leading Division I NCAA rebounder of all time.

After graduation, Chris made a difficult decision not to play professional basketball, and he went to work for Union Carbide as a production engineer at the WV Institute Plant. On May 15, 1963, Chris married Sandra Kay Hatcher, and they had four children including Elizabeth in 1967, Christopher in 1971, Caroline in 1972, and Jonathan in 1973.

During the fall of 1973, Chris was promoted and transferred by Union Carbide to the Texas City Plant, and a couple of months later, his family relocated to Clear Lake, Texas. In late 1979, Chris was again promoted this time to an assistant plant manager position at the Union Carbide Woodbine, Georgia Plant to manage the startup of a new Plant. Then, Chris, Sandy, and their four children, aged between twelve and six, relocated to Jacksonville, Florida. During late 1984, Chris was promoted to be Plant Manager of the Woodbine Plant.

In June, 1986, Chris was again promoted to become the Division Director of Health, Safety, and Environmental Affairs for the Agricultural Products Division located at the Research Triangle Park. His family relocated to Cary, North Carolina in August, 1986.

In December, 1986, Union Carbide sold their Agricultural Products Division to Rhone Poulenc Corporation. For several months in early 1987, Chris worked on the merger of the Health, Safety, and Environmental Affairs Functions between Union Carbide and Rhone Poulenc. Later, Chris was assigned to a Rhone Poulenc Corporate Director position for Health, Safety, and Environmental Affairs, and he authored a new Corporate Policy and Standards Manual for Health, Safety, and Environmental Affairs.

In January, 1989, Union Carbide contacted Rhone Poulenc to offer Chris a plant management position at their South Charleston Plant. This management proposal was highly unusual for either Union Carbide or Rhone Poulenc, and it showed the high level of respect that both corporations had for Chris's unique talents and work ethic. So in February, 1989, Chris transferred back to Union Carbide to work in Charleston, West Virginia. Immediately, Chris absorbed the duties of two Assistant Plant Managers and over the next twelve months, he absorbed most of the duties of a third Assistant Plant Manager.

Even more incredible was that during this time, Chris and Sandy constructed temporary living facilities and completed the design for the new house. Then, over the following two-year period of time from mid-1990 to mid-1992, Chris, Sandy, and their family framed and built their dream home along with a 30 by 50-foot in-ground concrete swimming pool and a 5,300 square foot brick patio.

During the three years from 1990 to 1993, Chris was the individual who was most responsible for the implementation of the highly successful Worst Case Scenario Community Communication Project in the Kanawha Valley. He led the development of the concept by working with the National Institute of Chemical Studies, the Community Emergency Response groups, and representatives from the nine local chemical plants to continually encourage their participation. He even formed and chaired a Hazard Evaluation Group to develop a standard methodology to measure and evaluate the hazards and risks for each worst case scenario. The main benefit of the worst case scenario project was the improved level of mutual trust in the relationship between the chemical industry and the community. It is still evident today, even 13 years later.

In late 1994, Chris decided to run as a City-wide Councilman for Charleston. During the General Election, Chris led the ticket. During his four years on City Council, he formed an Employee Roundtable to resolve city labor issues, presented a resolution to support Yeager Airport, helped to lead the consolidation of the 911 center into the County, and with three other councilmen started the initial efforts to form a Kanawha City Revitalization Committee.

In December, 1994, Chris retired from Union Carbide after 34 years of service. In January, 1995, he went to work as the Kanawha County Schools' first and only Business Manager. While Chris was in this job for five years, he managed to save $27 million. In addition, he identified savings in excess of $100 million that could be achieved by school consolidations and closures. Also, Chris managed the Riverside High School project successfully to startup on schedule with no cost overruns.

In June, 1999, Chris retired from the school system to allow him to become Treasurer for the City of Charleston. During his four years as Treasurer, he established a fair bidding process for banks to bid on city investment funds, he standardized the process for banks to bid for City banking services, and he formed and chaired a committee to study and make recommendations to resolve the fireman and police pension unfunded liabilities.

In 2002, Chris had a kickoff fundraiser at his home to announce his candidacy for Mayor. After having several additional fundraisers and debates with the then-current Mayor of Charleston, Chris won the Primary Election by a wide margin. Later, during the General Election, Chris was defeated by the current Mayor.

In late 2003, Chris started writing and even publishing books. Presently, he has four books copy-written and one printed. His first book, It's More Than Just Winning!, focuses on Chris's basketball experiences, amusing stories at Charleston High School and Virginia Tech, and the importance of character. Chris's second book, Colonel John Smith, Patriot and Pioneer of the Eighteenth Century, is a biography of his first Smith immigrant ancestor. This book is scheduled for printing later in 2007.

For more information about Chris, visit Wikipedia.

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