News & Updates

Shepherdstown Rotary Club Honors Grant Smith


The Shepherdstown Rotary Club has honored the late Grant Smith, longtime president of the Land Trust of the Eastern Panhandle, with its highest award, the Paul Harris Award.

The posthumous honor was presented during the club’s May 21 weekly breakfast meeting at Shepherdstown’s Bavarian Inn. On hand to receive it was Mr. Smith’s wife, Renny, who is shown holding the award certificate in the foreground of the accompanying photo. She is flanked by the following Rotary Club members, from left to right, Dana Orsini, Bill Howard, Cara Keys, Sean Murtagh, Steve Campbell, and Walt Eifert.

The Rotary organization’s Paul Harris Award is named for the individual who founded Rotary International in 1905, Paul Percy Harris (1868-1947). The Shepherdstown Rotary Club periodically bestows this award on club and community members who exemplify the Rotary motto of “Service Above Self.” The club makes a $1,000 contribution from its own funds to the International Rotary organization’s charitable foundation on each awardee’s behalf.

Grant Smith, of Shepherdstown, passed away April 6, after suffering a heart attack a few days earlier. Born in 1938 to a U.S. Foreign Service family, he attended schools in India and the U.S. After graduating from Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs and receiving a master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, he served a long a distinguished career with the U.S. Department of State, specializing in South Asia. His final overseas assignment was as Ambassador to Tajikistan. He ended his career as a fellow at the Peacekeeping Institute at the Army War College in Carlisle, PA.

Grant continued his commitment to public service after he and Renny retired to the Eastern Panhandle.

He joined the Land Trust board in 2001 and served as its president for most of the past two decades. The organization was established in 1994 to preserve open space, farmland, and rural landscapes in the three-county region. Under Grant’s leadership, it grew to the point where it now holds or co-holds conservation easements that are protecting more than 5,000 acres, including sites associated with Civil War battlefields and other historic properties.

Grant was also one of the volunteer teachers in Shepherd University’s Lifelong Learning Program when that program began in 2011, and he shared his foreign policy experience afterwards by regularly teaching a world affairs course called “Great Decisions.”

For many years, he also served as a Senior Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Central Asia and Caucuses Institute in Washington.

The Shepherdstown Rotary Club has also presented Paul Harris awards to two of its members in recognition of their community service activities: Cheryl Groen and Sean Murtagh. Groen was recognized at the club’s May 15 evening meeting for her work on behalf of the EPEC Adopt-A-Family Program and Rotary’s Eastern Panhandle Reading Program, and for other volunteer activities. Murtagh was recognized at the club’s May 21 breakfast for his service as club president during the 2022-2023 year, his service to Rotary District 7360, and his work with other community organizations.