GRAHAM (KFDX/KJTL) — Friends and family traveled from all across the state and even the country to commemorate the success of a man they all treasure.
Imagine being a Hollywood stuntman, an Olympic gold medalist and a respected cowboy all in one lifetime!
That’s the case for Graham native Dean Smith who celebrated his 90th birthday in his hometown surrounded by friends and family.
“90th birthday you know you gotta go say howdy to him,” Kenny Call said.
Long-time friend Kenny Call met Smith through mutual friends in the film industry.
“Dean Smith back in the 60s was like the stuntman in Hollywood you had to know,” Call said.
Call says Smith’s values and morals mirrored his own which help to form a strong friendship that could withstand anything, even a little friendly competition.
“Actually, I met him when I was auditioning for a commercial out there in California and it was a Winchester commercial and I remember he cheated. He brought his own horse and I had to ride the deuce train horse. His horse was broke, mine would just go wherever it wanted to go,” Call said.
A little fun on set that he shared with many including the late actor John Wayne and his granddaughter Anita Swift.
“Dean and I go way back to the Alamo. I was two years old on the Alamo set and he was much 19 or 20,” Swift said.
Smith worked in several of Wayne’s films including ‘The Alamo’, ‘How The West Was Won’ and ‘El Dorado’.
Wayne and Smith became friends and Swift says his loyalty to people in his life is a quality of his that she values the most.
“I remember Dean coming to Washington D.C. when my grandfather received the Congressional Medal of Honor and he was one of the few people that came for that event, and I told him I will come to anything for you because he was so wonderful,” Swift said.
Graham’s Old Post Office Museum and Art Center is celebrating Smith’s milestone birthday with an exhibit featuring many of those accomplishments.
“I’m just honored that they wanted me to come and share in these activities,” Smith said.
Many periods of his life are featured throughout the museum bringing back fond memories of each experience.
But despite the many careers he’s had, the one he treasures most was during the 1952 Summer Olympics where he took home a gold medal for the 4×100 meter relay in the track and field competition.
“That’s the Olympic games there. All those shoes I wore at different times at track meets. When you’re fast you’re fast,” Smith said.
Smith says spending time reminiscing on his success in Hollywood and in sports gives him a great appreciation for how far he’s come.
“I’m just thankful that I have been able to live this long. 90 years that’s a long time,” Smith said.
Time that has been and will continue to be well spent.
Smith’s exhibit will be featured for the next several weeks so make sure you stop by sooner rather than later to see all of the fascinating phases of his life that make him the legend he is.