If the latest winner of the Baraboo Gem Award has his way, he’ll be followed by hundreds more recipients.
Accountant and community booster Walt Smith was honored Tuesday with the Gem Award, bestowed on residents who help Baraboo prosper. Smith helped start Sauk County Crimestoppers and an annual charitable golf outing, and has volunteered for several organizations. He’s a past president of the local Kiwanis Club and school board.
Smith said he was honored to be the award’s eighth recipient since Mayor Mike Palm launched the program last year. “To be a recipient of it in its infancy is very, very flattering,” Smith said. “We have hundreds of human gems prepared to help the area.”
Palm read a proclamation listing Smith’s community contributions, noting the honoree “has dedicated his working life in helping to make Baraboo a more prosperous and positive place to live and work.”
Smith came to Baraboo in 1976 as vice president of finance for Flambeau Plastics. He later was promoted to general manager. In 1983, Smith opened a CPA firm and has continued to serve local businesses and residents, as well as clients around the world.
Away from the office, he held gospel concerts and the Walt Smith Charity Golf Outing to raise money for local nonprofits. The golf outing has grown to attract as many as 158 golfers, and has raised more than $250,000.
Meanwhile, Smith has been an ardent supporter of the Boys & Girls Club, Downtown Baraboo Inc., the Baraboo Area Chamber of Commerce and the Citizens Police and Fire Academy.
Smith credited wife Yvonne for supporting his efforts — and raising six children — so he could volunteer his free time and travel on business.
He said Baraboo is an outstanding community thanks to its strong schools, libraries, medical facilities, churches, attractions and businesses. City leaders merit credit for their role in the community’s growth, he said. “In my view, we have a great administration,” Smith said.
The affection was mutual Tuesday. “The city of Baraboo extends its heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to Walt and his family for their commitment to our fair city,” Palm said.