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100 Years Ago: Victor Smith’s Lasting Contribution

Graeme Noseworthy — October 26, 2020

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Victor H. Smith was the third Secretary of the Cheshire County YMCA. A University of New Hampshire graduate, Victor wasn’t with the Y very long but, nevertheless, he was able to make some critically important contributions.

Boys arriving at Camp, circa 1920

During the fall of 1920, Victor spent a great deal of time attending conferences with Daniel E. Lorentz, the second Secretary of the Y and first director of Camp Takodah. Daniel was transitioning out of the organization and helping to get Victor set up. As they spent time together, a few things became clear. First off, Victor was far more interested in the business end of the Y than he was in camping services and yet he knew that the growing organization needed someone who could easily balance both. Secondly, Victor could see that we needed more leadership throughout the county, more fundraising, and better equipment.

As he frustratingly expressed in his October, 1920 report to the Board, “much time has been spent on the internal mechanisms of the Ford.” It seemed to him that perhaps this wasn’t the job he hoped it would be.

Train Station in Northfield, Massachusetts

Within a matter of months, Victor, already accepting that he was more of an “interim” than a “permanent” secretary, began to assist the Board in searching for his replacement. Over the following winter, there were many candidates screened with one from Springfield College repeatedly rising to the surface. As it would turn out, it wasn’t an individual that the Y was strongly considering for the job but a team – husband and wife – that would help steer the organization into a new and exciting possibilities no one had yet truly dreamed of.

On July 10, 1921 Victor met Oscar and Francis Elwell at the train station in Northfield, Massachusetts. He drove them to Camp Takodah in Richmond for their final interview with the Cheshire County YMCA Board. It wasn’t long until they were hired and getting settled in. Satisfied that the Y was now in very good hands, Victor quietly resigned soon after.

Over the years, Victor kept in contact with the Cheshire County YMCA including attending the Annual Meeting on December 8, 1951, when the Elwells were recognized for 30 years of service. His year of service in the past is remembered as a kickstart to our future.