Granville I. Smith, 87: Harbor pilot helped shape Maine's maritime industry

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CUMBERLAND — Granville Isaac “Pete” Smith, 87, of Cumberland Foreside, died Sept. 19, with his family by his side.

Smith was born Oct. 26, 1927, a son of Sherman Devere Smith and Gladys Josephine (Laberee) Smith. After his father died in 1929, Granville was sent aboard a bus from Albany, New York, to live with his grandparents on a small farm in East Pittston.

Smith was educated through the eighth grade in a one-room schoolhouse, but later attended Tabor Academy in Marion, Massachusetts. Homesick for Maine, he eventually returned to Gardiner, where he completed high school in just three years.

He graduated in 1947 from Maine Maritime Academy with a bachelor’s degree in nautical science. Soon afterward, he began his maritime career as a deck officer, swiftly rising to the rank of captain in the international tanker trade. Smith sailed with Mobil Oil Corp. from 1947-1958.

He wed Mary Louise Marks, of Randolph, on June 30, 1951. They were married for 53 years until her death in 2004, and together raised four children. In 1958, the family moved to Cumberland Foreside. The house Smith built there is still enjoyed by his children today, and the family has grown to include 11 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Also in 1958, Smith began his career as a Portland Harbor pilot, and went on to safely guide inbound and outbound vessels for more than 43 years. Over his career, Smith 12 times received a U.S. Merchant Marine Master Unlimited License to navigate any ocean, a rare accomplishment. The U.S. Coast Guard incorporated his answers and knowledge into its licensing examination. In 1969, Smith designed Portland’s first steel pilot vessel, replacing the wooden schooner and dory that had been used.

Smith served for many years as the Maine trustee to the American Pilots’ Association, and was active in the Portland Marine Society for more than three decades, holding the positions of president, secretary and treasurer. He also was a member of the Portland Propeller Club. He was widely regarded for the lasting impact he made on the Portland waterfront and its development.

Smith also was deeply dedicated to Maine Maritime Academy, and served as president of its alumni association, as well as a member of academy and alumni boards. In 1974, MMA honored him as an outstanding alumnus. In 1997, he was inducted into the academy’s Wall of Honor. He helped establish in 1998 the Capt. Granville I. Smith Regimental Scholarship Fund, which provides education to deserving midshipmen, and continued to support the fund over the years. In 2005, MMA named the Capt. Granville I. Smith Bridge Simulator Center in his honor.

When he was ashore, Smith found great joy in hunting, fishing and being outdoors at his family’s retreat for more than 50 years, Seboeis Farm, in Penobscot County. He was a registered Maine guide and always passionate about the state of Maine.

Smith is survived by his four children: Gary Ford Smith, his wife, Debra, of South Portland, and their children, Shannon Elizabeth Richards, Kahsi Ann, Jason James and Ian Isaac; Mark Russell Smith, of Falmouth, and his children, Gregory Lawrence and Meaghan Catherine; Shelly Smith Shuka, her husband, John, of Hamilton, Massachusetts, and their children, Christopher Andrew, Lindsey Katherine Collens and Kelsey Lauren; and Holly Dineen Smith, her husband, Jason, of Sanibel Island, Florida, and their children, Zane Joshua and Peyton Clay.

At the family’s request, no funeral was scheduled; private interment was to be at Seboeis Farm.

The family extends deep thanks to the staff of Falmouth by the Sea and Foreside Harbor.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to The Capt. Granville I. Smith Regimental Scholarship Fund, Maine Maritime Academy Development Office, 1 Pleasant St., Castine, ME 04420.