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Cumming Municipal Court Judge Charles Smith remembered for service to community
Helped found Bald Ridge Lodge, South Forsyth Rotary
Charles Smith

John Bramblett remembers sitting at a weekly meeting for the Rotary Club of South Forsyth, listening to a presentation about Jesse’s House, a group home for at-risk girls.

“I remember Charlie leaning over to Buddy and saying, ‘Why isn’t there a boys’ lodge?’ And they looked at each other and said why don’t we do that?” said Bramblett, current president of the Rotary club.

Charles R. “Charlie” Smith passed away on Monday, July 24 after a lifetime of service to his neighbors in Forsyth County, and those he impacted say they will remember him for his genuine personality and his dedication to helping others.

“He was a guy that always had a story to tell and a funny personality,” Bramblett said. “He was never too busy to talk to anyone. He always took time, especially for young people.”

He did more than brainstorm what would become Bald Ridge Lodge, a non-profit stabilization and assessment center for boys aged 12-21 in Forsyth County who are in the custody of the Department of Family and Children Services or who are referred by Juvenile Court.

“They raised all the money and put our agency together and did everything for us,” said Heidi Snarey, executive director of the lodge. “Since then, we’ve served over 400 boys.”


Charles Smith
The Leadership Forsyth Class of 2015 dedicated its class project, the Charlie Smith and Buddy Lang Sport Court, to the Bald Ridge Lodge.

He stuck around after helping found the lodge with Herbert “Buddy” Lang Jr., who passed away in 2011.

“He came to every major function we’ve ever had. Our board staff has a recognition dinner and he always spoke,” Snarey said. “He was the kindest … he’s going to be missed by everybody who’s involved at the lodge.”

He made sure every boy at the lodge had tickets to go to the Cumming Country Fair & Festival each year.

“The boys knew him throughout the years,” Snarey said. “He always made people laugh.”

He did more than attend that Rotary meeting and start a life-changing non-profit. He was a founding member of the Rotary Club of South Forsyth, which in 1990 became the first to split form the original Rotary Club of Forsyth County and form its own chapter — there are now five in the county.

He gave back to the community in more ways than pursuing civic service.

He practiced criminal defense law in Atlanta for 35 years, during which time he tried and won the first RICO case in Georgia. He presented three cases to the United States Supreme Court, all of which were ruled in his favor — one established case law for wire taps in Georgia.

Smith retired from practicing law only to take an appointment as the Municipal Court Judge for the city of Cumming. He retired from that after 22 years of service on the bench.

“Judge Smith is just one of those people,” Cumming City Administrator Gerald Blackburn said. “He’s so strong in the community, did so many things and volunteered on so many different boards and gave his time so freely and was so involved with so many things.”

He did more than serve on the municipal court bench.

He served in the U.S. Army. He served on the board of directors at Peoples Bank of Forsyth County and Citizens Bank of Forsyth County. He was an active member of Yarrab Shrine Temple of Atlanta for 50 years, serving as temple attorney or several years.

“He was just a good friend,” Blackburn said, “and somebody that was good to know.”