By Joe Johnson
Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Jerry Ne Smith has died from an apparent accident, according to Sunday morning announcements by the county government and police department.
The two-term commissioner from District 6 was 71.
The cause of death was being investigated by the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, which said, “Preliminary investigation suggests the death is accidental.”
“We are heartbroken to learn of Commissioner NeSmith’s tragic passing,” Mayor Kelly Girtz said. “Jerry was a fierce advocate for the businesses and residents of his district, the Westside of Athens, the Athens Farmers Market, Advantage Behavioral Health Systems, the Greenway, and the Atlanta Highway corridor. His passion and energy will be sorely missed in this community. Our condolences go out to his friends and family during this unbelievably difficult time.”
Additional details will be forthcoming in the days ahead, the county government's announcement stated.
NeSmith had a varied career in the public and private sectors and was long involved in community affairs.
According to his ACC biography, NeSmith retired as director of information systems at the University of Georgia’s Office of Research.
He was a founding co-director of UGA’s Research Computing Center and had a 30-year career in the Information Technology field.
NeSmith also was a former IT director at Emory University and was owner of the ITMF consulting company. He was a contractor for the federal government in various capacities.
His civic and community serice included: board member, Advantage Behavioral Health System; founding director and treasurer of the nonprofit Athens Farmers Market; founding member, elder and past treasurer of Oconee Presbyterian Church; and secretary of the Deerfield Neighborhood Association’s board of director, among several other involvements.
In the local government, NeSmith served as mayor pro tempore; was a commissioner since 2013; sat on numerous committees and was liaison to the Ben Epps Airport Authority and Oconee Greenway Commission.
NeSmith is survived by his wife, Farol; sons Jason and Noel; and daughter Noel.
Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.