The bumper stickers from past elections in Bryan County could be hard to miss, there were so many of them.
“Ride with Clyde,” they said.
Tuesday, those stickers were recalled by Richmond Hill Mayor Russ Carpenter prior to his giving retired Sheriff Clyde Smith the key to the city.
“In 1994, many cars and trucks in Bryan County displayed a ‘Ride with Clyde’ bumper sticker, and for almost three decades our county has rode with Clyde,” Carpenter said. “Today, Sheriff, we thank you for that ride.”
State Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, said he was amazed at Smith’s career, which included more than 54 years in law enforcement.
“If you go through the list of everything he’s done before and since the time he was elected sheriff, I’m just proud I could be here today,” Stephens said. “I’m honored that you let me be here.”
Carpenter said the key to the city is the highest honor Richmond Hill can give and it was presented in “recognition of Smith’s “honest and faithful service to the citizens of Richmond Hill and Bryan County.”
Carpenter also lauded Smith’s “bravery, compassion, ingenuity and dedication,” while noting until his term ended he was the county’s “longest serving public servant in Bryan county.”
Smith, who served six terms in office, decided not to seek a seventh term in 2020.
“Many Richmond Hill and Bryan County residents don’t know any other sheriff than you,” Carpenter said, turning to Smith.
Carpenter said Smith’s legacy was his “dedicated interest and devotion, and I should add integrity, in serving Bryan County and Richmond Hill.” He noted Smith, who began working in law enforcement in Savannah while also spending time as both “a cowboy and in shrimping,” had an impact on “the quality of life of every resident and business owner.”
Smith, a man of few words, was accompanied by his wife Dorothy and other family members. He said afterward he was appreciative of the honor, and thanked those who attended the ceremony.
Smith also seemed somewhat surprised at the turnout, which included Sheriff Mark Crowe, Richmond Hill Police Chief Mitch Shores and Richmond Hill council members Steve Scholar, Kristi Cox and Robbie Ward, as well as Tax Commissioner Carrol Ann Coleman and others.
“I’m just very appreciative and I thank everybody,” Smith said. “It’s been a good ride.”