Reagan Eulogizes Former U.S. Attorney General William French Smith
SAN MARINO, Calif. (AP) _ William French Smith, who was U.S. attorney general from 1981 to 1985 and a member of Ronald Reagan’s ″kitchen cabinet,″ was eulogized Friday by his old boss as a man worth listening to.
″For more than two decades, Nancy’s and my life was enriched, yes, blessed, by William French Smith,″ Reagan said. ″When he spoke he made sense, and when he spoke, I listened.″
Reagan and others eulogized Smith during a one-hour service attended by 250 people at San Marino Community Church.
Smith was 73 when he died of cancer Monday at the University of Southern California’s Kenneth Norris Jr. Cancer Hospital.
The memorial service came a day after Smith was interred during a private service at Forest Lawn Glendale, said his son-in-law, Lee Lorenzen.
Born Aug. 26, 1917, in Wilton, N.H., Smith served as a Navy officer during World War II. As a managing partner of the Los Angeles law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, he specialized in corporate relations with labor.
As attorney general, Smith oversaw the breakup of AT&T and the deregulation of airlines.
″Bill ... believed firmly in limited government and keeping government as close to the people as possible,″ said U.S. Solicitor General Kenneth W. Starr in his eulogy.
Starr, who served under Smith in Washington, described Smith’s interests in the ″far reaches of the Department of Justice,″ including his visits to Cambodian refugee camps in eastern Thailand and anti-drug efforts in Pakistan, Peru and Bolivia.
Reagan’s personal attorney and investment advisor, Smith was also informal chairman of the ″kitchen cabinet″ that helped usher Reagan into the California governor’s mansion and the White House.
″It was the source of the greatest comfort to have a friend from home at the Cabinet table,″ Reagan said.
″We really lost a good pal, he was the best,″ said entertainment industry producer Merv Griffin.
A eulogy also was delivered by Charles Z. Wick, former director of the U.S. Information Agency.
Also in attendance were former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, Sen. Pete Wilson, R-Calif., Eva Gabor and filmmaker Jerry Weintraub.
U.S. Attorney General Richard Thornburgh was addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York and could not attend the service, said Starr.
Smith is survived by his wife, Jean; sons William French Smith III, Scott Cameron Smith, Gregory Hale Smith; daughter, Stephanie Smith Lorenzen; stepson G. William Vaughan Jr.; stepdaughter Merry Vaughan Dunn; and seven grandchildren.