Clifton Sawyer Smith

1940 – 2018

SOUTH PARIS – Retired Auburn Fire Chief Clifton Sawyer Smith died peacefully, with his wife at his side, at the Maine Veterans Home in South Paris, Maine on Thursday Oct. 18, 2018.  He truly gave his life to firefighting and had suffered an undetected traumatic brain injury several yeas ago that resulted in early onset dementia.
Clifton, also known as “Whitey”, “Smitty”, “Chief” or Cliff, was the youngest child born to Charlotte E. Sawyer Smith and Dwight B.H. Smith, Sr. on January 31, 1940 in Lewiston, Maine.
He attended Lewiston schools and graduated from Lewiston High School in 1958.  He joined the U.S. Coast Guard where he served 5 years.  He received a USCG Unit Commendation for his part in the rescue of 11 British men whose ship foundered  1000 miles of the coast of Portland, Maine.  He was assigned to the USCG Cutter Coos Bay at the time.
He leaves a long legacy of Fire Service and devoted a lifetime to protecting the community.  Cliff was a 4th generation firefighter and had 37 years in the fire service.  He was hired by the City of Lewiston Fire Department in September of 1964.  While a Lewiston firefighter, he rose up the ranks and held a position at every level.  He attended what was then known as CMVTI and received an associate Degree in Advanced Fire Technology.  Cliff joined the Maine Fire Chiefs Association in 1978, while he was a Deputy Fire Chief for the Lewiston Fire Department.  He was hired as Fire Chief for the City of Auburn in 1980.  He was President of the Maine Fire Chiefs Association in 1996 and was honored as “Maine Fire Chief of the Year” in 1997.
Chief was a member of the National Fire Protection Association, the Maine Fire Service Training Advisory Board, and the International Association of Fire Chiefs.  He also served as Vice President of the Maine State Federation of Firefighters and was a member of the statewide Juvenile Fire Setter Task Force.  He was also a certified Maine State Fire Service Training instructor, and taught fire technology.
In his free time, Cliff enjoyed hunting, fishing, and gardening.  He had a small landscaping business that he ran with his children in the 1970s and he was always willing to lend a helping hand to other firefighters who had small businesses.
Clifton married the former Wanda E. Daley Sienko on October 7, 1961.  They had three children, Cynthia, Brian and Timothy whom were all raised on the Crowley Road in Lewiston.  Cliff was very proud of his children and their accomplishments.
As an athlete who participated in track and basketball, Cliff coached his son’s and grandson’s baseball, basketball and hockey teams.  He was very competitive and truly enjoyed all sports and school activities in which his children and grandchildren were involved.  He never missed watching the Olympics or his beloved New England sports teams!
Cliff was very involved in his church as a young man, singing in the choir and playing for the church basketball team.  He was a Boy Scout and became a Boy Scout leader.  He was very patriotic and flew his American flag every day.  Cliff worked on Governor Brennan’s campaign and met many elected officials over the years, including Governor King, Senator Muskie, and Senator Mitchell.  He was very well liked by members of all political parties.
He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Wanda, his three children, Cynthia Ann Smith (Robbins), and Timothy and wife Shani Smith all of Lewiston, Brian and wife Debbie Smith of Somersworth, New Hampshire; 7 grandchildren, Benjamin, Mario, Alexander, Kristina, Kayla, Caden and Jacob; and 5 great grandchildren, Kalib, Kaylee, Isabelle, Mason and Hope.
He is also survived by all of his older siblings: sisters Glenys Palmer of Wells; Natalie McCarthy and Althea Willey of Lewiston, and brother Dwight, Jr. of Saluda, N. C., as well as many cherished nieces and nephews.
A Visitation will be held at the Fortin Group Home (Plummer/Merrill) in Auburn, Tuesday October 23, 2018 from 4-7pm. A Service will follow visitation at 7pm. A Burial will be at the Lisbon Ridge Cemetery on Upland Road in Lisbon, Maine Wednesday October 24, 2018 at 11 am.
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In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that contributions be made to the Local 797 Children’s Fund, Auburn Fire Department, 550 Minot Ave., Auburn, ME 04210

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