LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - One police juror called him an icon-- at least in Calcasieu Parish Government circles. After 32 years Claude Smart has retired from his job as parish engineer. But Smart, who is also a former McNeese football star, is waiting for word of his next calling. Says Smart, "In a world of talkers and debaters, I was different. I was a thinker and a doer."
He's what you might call the strong, silent type-- a man of few words and one who avoids the limelight-- so retiring Parish Engineer Claude Smart was out of his element as Calcasieu Police Jurors & staff honored him as he retires after 32 years. Jurors made it clear he's earned their respect and admiration for many reasons. Police Juror Elizabeth Griffin describes him this way--"A man of very few words and whatever he tells you, that's what he means." As jurors were sharing thoughts about his contributions to Calcasieu Parish, Juror Francis Andrepont told him, "You taught me a lot, whether you know it or not. I'm trying to give you credit."
In college he was starting offensive guard for McNeese State when they won the Independence Bowl in 1976. After graduation, his career eventually brought him to the parish where he's seen tremendous progress over three decades.
Yet he's found time for mission trips to Honduras each year for nearly a decade.. He says, "It's mainly a medical and dental mission but a lot of us branch out, we've done construction, we've bought clothes, eye glasses, we've evangelized out in the neighborhoods carrying rice and beans to the people. I do it mainly to please God because I believes that's what he wants me to do."
And as his service for the parish wraps up, he waits for word of his next calling. "I don't know whether it's going to be non-profit or take four or five mission trips a year and fish and golf the rest of the time or whether I'm going to find some group and be a part of something bigger than myself and work with them, but I'm sure it will become clear over the next year or so and weI'll dive in and get with it."
Smart's successor is Tim Conner.