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Jerome “Jerry” Albert Smith ’58, J.D. ’65 died peacefully at his home in Saratoga on Sunday, May 7, due to complications associated with prostate cancer. Jerry was born July 28, 1936, in San Jose. He is survived by his loving wife, Jane Decker, brother Albie, and his children with Kevil Smith, Tim (Mary Beth), Steve (MaryBeth), Peter (Sandy), and Maggie (Bobby), as well as grandchildren Katherine, Elizabeth, Michael, Matthew, Anthony, Francesca, Hannon, Emily, Taylor, Mason, Hanna, and Bo. Jerry’s beloved daughter, Caitlin (Pete), predeceased him as did his sister, Sheila.
Jerry was blessed to have shared in the lives of Jane’s children—Leslie (Chris), Mark (Nalin), and Brooke (Chuck)—as well as their beautiful children. Jerry also had many dear and loyal friends who embraced him with affection throughout his life.
Jerry began his education at St. Patrick’s Parochial School in San Jose before attending Bellarmine College Preparatory (Go Bells!). He received both his B.S. in history and philosophy and J.D. from SCU. He later received his Master of Laws degree (1990) from the University of Virginia.
Jerry began practicing law in San Jose in 1966 with the Ruffo Law Firm. Inspired by President John F. Kennedy, Jerry entered politics and was elected to the Saratoga City Council in 1968. In 1972, he became the Mayor of Saratoga. In 1974, and again in 1978, Jerry was elected to represent the 12th Senatorial District in the California Legislature. His most notable legislation included the California Coastal Act that preserves the California coastline, the Victims of Crime Act that provides assistance to victims of violent crime, and the California Conservation Corps Act, which provides training and work opportunities for young people with an emphasis on conserving and enhancing natural resources.
In 1979, Jerry was appointed associate justice to the California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District in San Francisco, and served on the bench until his retirement in 1996. Thereafter, Jerry acted as a legal specialist for the American Bar Association and Eastern European Legal Institute, where he assisted the Constitution Court of Georgia in Tbilisi, Georgia, in establishing the formation of an independent and well-trained judiciary and bar association.
Upon his retirement from the bench, Jerry pursued his artistic talents, honing his skills as a sculptor at the San Jose State University foundry. His public artwork includes life-size sculptures of Father Bellarmine and St. Ignatius of Loyola at Bellarmine College Prep, a bust of architect Julia Morgan at the Saratoga Foothill Club, and the bronze relief honoring Latino day workers titled “Los Jornaleros.” Jerry’s last art piece, a sculpture of iconic Saratogans Willys and Betty Peck, is due to be installed in August 2017.
A native son of the Santa Clara Valley, Jerry drew strength from his Catholic faith. He will be remembered for his intellect, humor, and passion for politics and the arts. But his legacy will be his loved ones, both family and friends, and the considerable impact he had on their lives.
Contributions may be made to the Anne Hannon Smith Endowed Scholarship c/o Santa Clara University Law School, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053.