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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

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8/15/2012 9:59:00 PM
Second Hand Man a first-class Prescottonian
Karen Despain
The Daily Courier

Al Smith, whose Second Hand Man store probably furnished more homes in the Prescott area than any other business in recent history, died Monday, Aug. 13.

He was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1927, where he spent his early years, until his family moved to the San Bernardino, Calif., area. He left home before finishing high school, worked in Las Vegas and again in California before eventually moving to Phoenix, where he took over an upholstery shop.

During his time in Phoenix, Smith visited Prescott and decided to make it his home in order to get out of the desert heat.

"He always tried to save something. He always wanted to repair something or help someone," his widow, Mary Jane, said.

When he arrived in Prescott in 1955, he found an old house on South Mt. Vernon Avenue that "he wanted to save," she said. It had been boarded up for 14 years, and he bought it for a modest price. "People asked him if he wanted to tear it down," Mary Jane said, and his response was, "No, definitely not." He wanted to repair it and live in it.

People far and wide know this house because it's a standout on Halloween night when kids visit the area for trick-or-treating.

"He loved it," Mary Jane said of Halloween. "He loved children."

His first business venture in Prescott was Bargain Basement on Sheldon Street.

Smith moved his business to its present location on South Montezuma Street in 1965 and incorporated it as the Second Hand Man home furnishings store.

He had a particular interest in history, Mary Jane said: "He enjoyed conversation about history."

One significant historical note about Smith occurred in 1945. He was drafted into the Army and, as he stepped on the train to leave for the base he was assigned to, a whistle blew. "They announced that the war was over," she said.

Jersey Lilly Saloon owner Tommy Meredith and Smith were longtime friends, and he echoed what Mary Jane said - that Smith was a very private person.

"He was an old-time Prescottonian starting from scratch, selling appliances," Meredith said. "He built the business to what you see today with hard work and relationships that people respected.

"He was very appreciative of antiques, cars, anything that was nostalgic," he said, adding that some of his relics grace Murphy's restaurant, where the "Al Smith" hamburger bears his name.

"He was one of the kindest persons I've every met. He definitely left his mark on the community."

Another friend of many years, Bill Kenson, described Smith as "the nicest, fairest guy I have ever dealt with. A super guy."

No matter what Smith faced, "he never lost his spirit," Mary Jane said.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, August 17, 2012
Article comment by: J C

The Second Man store is one of my favorite places in Prescott. I will always remember Al, he was always nice to me I will miss you Al. My heart goes out to Mary Jane and the rest of the family.

Posted: Friday, August 17, 2012
Article comment by: Jennifer Whitman

Some of my fondest memories were trick or treating on Mt Vernon at the Smiths. Now I have my own haunted house:) What a great family and a great man! My prayers are with your family.

Posted: Friday, August 17, 2012
Article comment by: ron & leanne owens

Second Hand Man a prescott icon Al was a wonderful guy. Mike & family will carry on. Our condolences to all. Owens family

Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2012
Article comment by: Larry LeForte

My condolences to Mike and the rest of the family, you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2012
Article comment by: David Fornara

I'm really sad to hear this news... Al was a great man and a "True Prescottonian". Al and family helped out many in the Prescott area. I grew up with Mike and knew the family... I send out my most humble condolences to them all...

Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2012
Article comment by: Monica Rodarte

Mike and Mary Jane, so sorry to hear about your loss. Mr. Smith was such a good man. He is in a better place. With deepest sympathy.

Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2012
Article comment by: WIlhelmsen Family

Mr. Smith spent his life making this community a better place. Whether it was in his personal life or through his business, he treated those around him with generosity and respect. Our prayers go out to his wonderful wife.

Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2012
Article comment by: Former Prescott Resident

The "Al Smith" burger originated at the Willow Creek Inn back in the early 80's.....

Take a hamburger patty, slap it on the grill, immediately turn it over, then immediately remove it and serve.....

Made many of those as Al and his family would come in three - four times a week for dinner.


Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2012
Article comment by: bill wallace

I met AL SMITH in 1976 while working at OWEN'S TEXACO-- corner of MONTEZUMA+ E.CARLTON.( where they rent scooter+motorcyles-now).
sincerely, tuna

Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2012
Article comment by: Lisa C

My condolences to you Mary Jane, and your family. I would see you and your husband sitting on the porch, enjoying the afternoon breeze many times as I walked my dog along the sidewalk.

Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2012
Article comment by: Starla Ryer

A sad day for sure. Another Prescott Icon gone, farewell & God Speed.
I remeber Al & Mary Jane coming in nearly everyday to have a meal at Sunset Hills. Back then it was one of the only good places to eat in town. He was alway kind and generous. My prayers and heart are with the family.

Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2012
Article comment by: Donald Whitman

So sad to hear that Al has passed away. He was always a bright spot in Prescott. Our whole family loved him and their family. What a legacy he leaves. Thankyou Mary Jane and family for all you do for Prescott..........

Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2012
Article comment by: Daryl Butricks

My prayers go out to Mary Jane and Mike and family, Al was a good man and a true icon of Prescott.

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