BREAKING NEWS Former Selma Mayor Joe Smitherman dies

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 11, 2005

From Staff Reports

Former Selma Mayor Joe T. Smitherman died late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, the Times-Journal has confirmed through various sources.

The former mayor served from 1965 until 2000 when he lost to current Mayor James Perkins Jr., in a hard-fought election that drew national attention.

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“I’ve expressed my condolences to the family,” Perkins said. “The city of Selma will appropriately respond. I’m pleased to say that the mayor and I had made peace. I hope the spirit of the Lord is with him.”

Many of Smitherman’s supporters say he has been treated unfairly in the press and in public perception.

“I’m so privileged to have known him and worked for him,” long-time assistant Warren Hinson said. “They don’t know his humor.

They don’t know how smart he was. I will miss him more than I can tell you.”

The youngest of six children, Smitherman’s father died while he was an infant.

His mother’s efforts raising six children alone shaped his attitude for life.

“My (role as) a mother was first for him,” Hinson said. “He had a great respect for motherhood.”

“My mother was a great woman,” Smitherman told the Times-Journal in 1979. “She tried to feed and clothe a family as a widow woman.

We grew up in poverty, but my mother insisted on two things-that we had discipline and pride in our family.”

Funeral arrangements are expected to be announced by the family later this afternoon.