By Michele Dargan, special for the Civic Association --  Well-known Palm Beach architect Jeffrey W. Smith received the 2018 William J. “Bill” Brooks Community Service Award from the Palm Beach Civic Association.

Mr. Smith was honored Monday at the Civic Association’s Annual Awards Luncheon in front of more than 200 people in attendance. The award is presented annually to an individual whose contribution to the town has significantly improved the quality of life in the community.

Photo: Jeff Smith, Brian Williams, Bob Wright

He is president of Smith Architectural Group, a Palm Beach based office specializing in residential architecture, which he founded in 1989. His firm has won numerous state and national awards for the company’s work.

Mr. Smith’s community involvement includes being a trustee of the Preservation Foundation since 1996. He has served as chairman on both the Town of Palm Beach Architectural Commission and the Town of Palm Beach Landmarks Preservation Commission. Mr. Smith currently serves as chairman of the Town of Palm Beach Underground Utilities Task Force and as a trustee of the Cathleen McFarlane Charitable Foundation.

Civic Association Chairman and CEO Bob Wright presented the award.

“Jeff, your architectural work in Palm Beach has transformed our island,” Mr. Wright said. “You have achieved a level of excellence in design that few can match, and your commitment to Palm Beach is exceptional. At the Civic Association, we are grateful to you for the exceptional work you do in our community. Today, it is my privilege to recognize you for your outstanding service in presenting you with the Civic Association’s 2018 Bill Brooks Community Service Award.”

A Civic Association director and Palm Beach resident, Mr. Smith said he was “pleased, honored and humbled” to receive the award, particularly because he knew Mr. Brooks. Mr. Smith attended Cardinal Newman High School and Mr. Brooks, a priest at that time, was his religious instructor.

“We are all blessed to be living in Palm Beach and we all do our part to support the town we love,” Mr. Smith said. “I’ve been fortunate to be appointed by the Town Council to serve on ARCOM for 15 years and for five years on the Landmarks Preservation Commission to preserve and protect the architectural integrity of the town that our founding fathers - architects Mizner, Fazio, Wyeth and Volk - created.”

The Stanley M. Rumbough, Jr. Legacy Society

Mr. Wright announced the formation of The Stanley M. Rumbough, Jr. Legacy Society with gift commitments totaling over $1 million. Mr. Wright thanked the Rumbough family and others who have donated in Mr. Rumbough’s memory to establish the society. A former Civic Association CEO, Mr. Rumbough passed away in September and the entire 2018 Civic Association’s season is dedicated to him.

“The Stanley M. Rumbough, Jr. Legacy Society will ensure the Palm Beach Civic Association long-term fiscal stability to benefit generations to come, by continuing our mission of protecting and enhancing the quality of life in Palm Beach,” Mr. Wright said. “This Legacy Society will serve as the catalyst to educate our citizens, through organized forums and symposiums, in perpetuity.”

Mr. Wright thanked Florida Crystals and Good Samaritan Medical Center, signature sponsors of the luncheon, and The Breakers, co-sponsor. He also recognized and thanked Michele and Howard Kessler for underwriting and hosting the VIP dinner at their home the previous evening [Click Here to See Dinner Story & Photo Gallery].

Keynote Speaker Brian Williams

Brian Williams, the anchor of “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” on MSNBC, was the keynote speaker.

Mr. Wright and Mr. Williams are longtime friends who worked together for many years at NBC. Mr. Wright was CEO and chairman, and Mr. Williams held variety of high-profile news positions, including anchor and managing editor of “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.”

Mr. Wright introduced Mr. Williams, who has won more than a dozen Emmy Awards, 11 Edward R. Murrow Awards, the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism and the industry’s highest honor, the George Foster Peabody Award.

Mr. Williams delivered “a message of hope and optimism” for the future of the U.S. despite the overwhelmingly deep divide and negative discourse between the political parties.

He used the example of Elon Musk, CEO of Space X, who sent his own Tesla sports car into space “because he could.” Mr. Williams said he believes Mr. Musk will go down in the history books alongside Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, and Steve Jobs.

“The tale of what we were and the tale of what we can be is encapsulated in the tale of Elon Musk,” Mr. Williams said. “This is moxie the likes of which we haven’t seen.”

Mr. Williams talked about the areas of U.S. infrastructure and transportation that are in desperate need of repair or updating, including aviation, railways, roadways, and New York’s subways.

“Isn’t this something we can all get behind and isn’t this something we can all agree to?” Mr. Williams said. “Everyone wants a nicer, better United States. I think it’s beyond presidents. I think it goes from president to president no matter who is in the Oval Office.”
He reminded everyone of other times in U.S. history that appeared bleak, including The Great Depression.

“This country has genuine greatness in its DNA,” he said. “I would urge you to remind yourselves over and over again what America is capable of.”


Brian Williams in Palm Beach: America Carries ‘Greatness in Its DNA’
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Brian Williams at Civic Association Awards Luncheon
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Palm Beach Civic Association Video [49:15] See the Whole Event in Video below:


Photos by Capehart

2018 Annual Awards Luncheon