File photograph by George Sakkestad Jerry Smith, former mayor of Saratoga and sculptor of the Peck Bronze Project has passed away. Pictured is Smith providing an overview of the bronze project to the Saratoga community at the Villa Montalvo Arts Center.
Retired justice Jerome “Jerry” Albert Smith, a former Saratoga mayor, died peacefully in his Saratoga home on May 7.
Smith served on the Saratoga City Council before starting a 20-year career as a state appellate court judge. After retirement, Smith launched a successful creative career. At his death, he was serving as the lead sculptor for the Willys and Betty Peck Bronze Project.
“I think what attracted people to Jerry was that when he spoke to you, he spoke directly to you,” said his wife, Jane Decker. “He listened and really cared about the person he was meeting or the person he was talking to. There was something about how Jerry connected with people that was different from others.”
Decker and Smith were married in April after a decades-long relationship.
Smith was a member of the Saratoga City Council from 1968 to 1974, serving as mayor from 1972 to 1974. In 1974, and again in 1978, he was elected to represent the 12th Senate district in the California Legislature.
Among the most noticeable laws he worked on were 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 that provides training and work opportunities for young people, with an emphasis on conserving and enhancing natural resources.
In 1979, Smith resigned from the Senate and was appointed associate justice to the 1st District Court of Appeals in San Francisco. He served on the bench until his retirement in 1996.
After retiring, Smith developed his skills as a sculptor at the San Jose State University foundry. His public artwork includes a bust of architect Julia Morgan at the Saratoga Foothill Club, life-size sculptures of Father Bellarmine and St. Ignatius of Loyola at Bellarmine College Prep and bronzes honoring Latino day workers entitled “Los Jornaleros.”
Smith’s last art piece was the Peck bronzes.
According to the project coordinators, Smith finished the heads and hands some time ago.
Photograph by Brandy Miceli<br />Anthony Teixeira, right, Jerry Smith’s long-time sculpture partner, is pictured administering a casting of Bill Peck, which will come to be the body of Willys Peck, for the Peck Bronze Project. The final product will be revealed in Blaney Plaza in August.
Anthony Teixeira, Smith’s sculpture partner, will continue installing the bronzes to ensure the project aligns closely with Smith’s vision.
Smith died after complications from prostate cancer. He was 80 years old.
The Peck bronze is expected to be installed in Blaney Plaza in August. To follow the project’s progress, visit gofundme.com/willysbettypeck.
A memorial for Smith was held Thursday. In lieu of flowers, 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.