H. Selwyn Smith

  • BORN: July 19, 1922
  • DIED: August 24, 2013
  • LOCATION: Manassas, Virginia

H. Selwyn Smith

Circuit Court Judge and former Secretary of Public Safety for the Commonwealth of Virginia

Retired Circuit Court Judge H. Selwyn Smith passed away peacefully Saturday August 24, 2013; surrounded by his family. He died knowing that the newest member of his family had been born 72 hours earlier, managing a slight smile and a twinkle in his eyes when hearing the news and seeing a picture of his new great-grandson. Judge Smith was 91 years old.
Born on July 19, 1922, in Manassas, he was raised on the family farm in Nokesville, Virginia that had been in his father's family for generations. He served his country as an Army Captain during World War II; earning several battlefield decorations. He was seriously wounded in the Allied push into Germany in March of 1945, and was hospitalized for five months.

After the war Judge Smith married Virginia Margaret Busk, (Jenny) of Plant City Florida. Their romance journeyed through 64 years until her passing in November of 2009. Jenny and Selwyn raised four children. Together, Jenny and Selwyn passed on fabulous memories of growing up on the "farm;" known as "Smitherwood".

Judge Smith graduated from Virginia Tech in 1943, in an accelerated class of potential officers and soldiers. While at Tech he served as a Company Commander in the Corp of Cadets, and earned his Bachelor's degree, in Agricultural Sciences. After the war and as newlyweds Judge Smith and Jenny traveled across the country for two years to fulfill his assigned military duties at a number of different military bases. It was during this time that he solidified his desire to pursue a career in law.

In the summer of 1947 he enrolled, in an accelerated law program at the University of Virginia earning his degree in two years. A month later he established his law practice in Manassas becoming one of only eight attorneys in the area at that time.

In 1960 he was elected Commonwealth's Attorney of Prince William County. In 1972 he was elected to serve in the Virginia Senate for a four year term. In 1976 he was appointed by Governor Mills Godwin to assume the newly legislated position of Secretary of Public Safety; and he continued to serve in that position for the term of Governor John Dalton.
In 1980 he was appointed to serve as Circuit Court judge of Prince William County. He retired from that position on June 30, 1993, but continued to serve as a substitute Circuit Court judge for ten years.

Judge Smith often remarked that he was honored to serve the Commonwealth in all three branches of government. In 1999, the Virginia Bar Association recognized him for "Fifty Years of Outstanding Legal Service" to the Commonwealth.

Judge Smith is survived by his two sons and two daughters. Victor A. Smith and his wife Robin of Richmond, Virginia; Alison Smith Dixon and her husband Michael; Steven Selwyn Smith and his wife Jane; and Carolyn Smith Jacobs and her husband Brad, all residents of Manassas, Virginia. In addition Judge Smith is survived by nine grandchildren and four great- grandchildren. Judge Smith was the remaining patriarch of a large family, having been preceded in death by his parents Harold and Lucy Smith, and his two brothers and his sister, Harry Smith, Ray Smith and Naomi Smith Nace. He was a loved and respected uncle and advisor to his nine nieces and nephews and their families.

Throughout his final year of life Judge Smith was surrounded by family, friends, and his caregivers. The entire family is especially grateful for the compassion, comfort, and dignity provided their father and grandfather by these extraordinary ladies.

The family will receive family and friends from 2:00-4:00 p.m. and 6:00-8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at Grace United Methodist Church in Manassas VA. The funeral service for Judge Smith will be held at the church at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, August 28, 2013. In lieu of flowers the family suggests that expressions of sympathy in memory of Judge H. Selwyn and Jenny Smith be directed to Grace United Methodist Church, 9750 Wellington Road, Manassas, Virginia 20110.


“ Selwyn's father was my mother Frances's older brother. Early last year, Selwyn showed the uncommon decency of calling to say how much he appreciated...Read More »

Posted by: David Dawson - Cousin

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