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Mr. SMATHERS. Mr. President, it is with a deep sense of personal loss that I join in contemplation of the passing of our beloved comrade, WILLIS SMITH, and I experienced a deep sense of humility and genuine feeling of inadequacy in attempting to put into words an expression of tribute to the character and accomplishments of this great man during his life.
WILLIS SMITH and I came to the Senate in the same class, so to speak, having been nominated by the electors of our respective States in primaries and elections during the spring and summer of 1950. We have served together in the Senate for the past 242 years, and we have labored on many common causes and worked toward many common objectives.
We had many things in common, but of intimate importance to us was the fact that our families came from the same picturesque and inspiring areas of the United States which has such a great tradition and heritage—the mountains of western North Carolina. The grief-stricken widow was born and reared at Waynesville, which city is the birthplace and ancestral home of my own parents, and the place to which my own family returns every year for rest and inspiration. So I felt close to WILLIS SMITH because of the common background which we shared, and it was upon this basis that we readily formed a warm friendship when we became acquainted.
I first met WILLIS SMITH in 1935 when, with him, I attended the meeting of the American Bar As ion Los Angeles, Calif. I was attracted to him at the time by his warm congeniality, his manly bearing, and the unmistakable manifestations of the great talent and majestic character which marked his being and his everyday manner.
I quickly formed the impression at that time that this occasion had afforded me the privilege of entering the realm of a great man and a patriotic American, an outstanding man whose convictions and understanding of basic democracy inspired those about him, a Christian gentleman who embodied the virtues which only those with Godly vision can hope to obtain.
Throughout the years since that first meeting my initial impression of the lofty character and splendid aims and attainments of our noble friend, WILLIS SMITH, has been strengthened and enlarged. He has been an inspiration to me, as a younger man learning from his precept and example. His life and his career of devotion to duty and Christian service will ever be remembered by those who knew him and could understand the high and noble motives of his life on this earth.
The VICE PRESIDENT. If Senators have now concluded, the Chair would like to add a personal word to the eloquent tributes which have been paid to WILLIS SMITH.
It was my privilege to know him perhaps better than did many Members of the Senate. Like the Senator from Kansas [Mr. Carlson), I became a Member of the Senate at the same time Senator SMITH entered upon his duties here. His office was next to mine in the Senate Office Building. He was chairman of the board of trustees of the university at which I received my law degree; and from the day when I arrived in the Senate I considered him always not only as a friend but as a counselor to whom I could go for advice on the issues with which we are daily confronted on the floor of the Senate.
I am sure the Senate has been impressed today, as our guests in the galleries must have been, by the tributes that have been paid to WILLIS SMITH. I should like to call attention particularly to the completely bipartisan character of those tributes. Just as many Senators on the Republican as on the Democratic side of the aisle have joined in eulogizing the life, character, and public service of Senator SMITH. It seems to me that this very fact is not only a tribute to this great legislative body, in which men and women may disagree and still be friends, but it is also a tribute to our departed colleague. Senator SMITH possessed great ability, a quality which is respected in this body. His towering intellect, his sterling character, and his unimpeachable honesty marked him as a man among men. Whenever he rose to speak, which was not often, we knew that he was speaking always in the interests of his State and of his country, without regard to partisan or political considerations. It is a tribute to the quality of the man that he had the graciousness and gentleness of character which allowed him to disagree with his colleagues and still work with them in the friendly manner which was his, and for which we loved him.
As these tributes come to a close all of us must have been impressed by the fact that no man could have left more enduring monuments to his life than did WILLIS SMITH. His chosen profession was the law. He served as president of the American Bar Association and rendered great service to his fellow lawyers in that position. He was chairman of the board of trustees of a great university, much of the development of which has been the result of his leadership. He leaves a wonderful family, to whom deserved tribute has been paid on the Senate floor today. He also leaves his friends and colleagues in the Senate; and I think all of us will agree when I say that we can be thankful that the great spirit of WILLIS SMITH will always be with us, and that we shall be better servants of the people and of the Nation for having known him.