Gregor E. Smith
A child of Block Island, "a charismatic young man" who truly loved the island and was loved by the people here, has passed away.
Gregor Evans Smith, 21, died of a drug overdose on Thursday, April 18, in his father's home on Old Town Road.
His father, Robert Ellis Smith, painted a picture of a young man who first experienced Block Island when he was just weeks old and later went on to attend the Block Island School for eight years until 2009. He felt at home here more than anywhere else. Gregor graduated from East Providence High School in 2010, after a year and a half there. He later took classes at Johnson & Wales and the Community College of Rhode Island.
Bob Smith described a young man who reveled in island life. "He worked in the middle of the tourist action on Weldon's Way during the summer renting mopeds and enjoyed every minute of it," he said. He worked with Leo Leone beginning at a very young age and remained at the business for five years.
For parts of the past two years, Gregor worked at the gas station. "Everybody comments about his smile, an infectious smile, really, and everyone was impressed that they got a smile at the gas station," said Bob Smith.
Gregor was interested in fireworks and took two trips to the international fireworks competitions in Quebec City to see the pyrotechnics displays there. He regularly helped the Leone Family with their fireworks for the island's Fourth of July celebration.
Known as "G-reg" among his young friends, he took an interest in playing social games of poker from his grandfather, John Ritter. "And it was great that Greg got into 'March Madness' so much this year, He talked constantly about his bracket," said his twin brother, Ben, referring to the NCAA basketball tournament.
Gregor was in the middle of a tight group of friends here on Block Island, said his brother: “He was surrounded by a band of brothers." This past week Facebook and other social-media sites have been filled with pictures of Greg's often angelic face and comments about his eye lashes and "big bear hugs."
He was known on the Island for his ever-present backwards hat and long hair. Many of his friends commented that they were in and out of Greg and Ben's family homes all the time, for meals and good times. "His parents saw us as their kids," one said.
Of their own favorite times together, Bob Smith said, "What seems to stick in my mind the most are the trips we took, especially a trip to Martha's Vineyard, only the two of us." He lists other places they traveled to, including Seattle, London and Cambridge, England; San Francisco and Quebec. He went with his mother to Nashville and Bowling Green, Ky., where his grandparents lived.
"We made a special point to take the twin boys to pose in front of the Southeast Lighthouse when it was moved in 1993," he said. "The tiny twins in their matching carriers were regular features on the boat crossings."
Gregor is survived by his mother, Kathryn Ritter-Smith of Center Road and Warwick; his father, Robert Ellis Smith, of Old Town Road and Providence; his brother, Benjamin E. Smith, at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst; half-brothers Marc Smith, of Washington, D.C., and David E. Smith of San Diego, and his grandmother, Mania Ritter of Center Road and Bowling Green, Ky. And he leaves behind that "tight band of brothers" who Ben described as "my other brothers - Travis, Lyle, Evan, Will, Tim, Mickey, Lou, Derek, Paul and Parvin."
That band of brothers will continue, Ben said. His mother, Kathryn Ritter-Smith, who worked at the Block Island School office when the boys were there, said that she was "sure they will look after Ben." And Ben said that he was relying on them.
A celebration of the life of Gregor E. Smith will be held in Harbor Baptist Church at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, with burial in the Island Cemetery. The family suggests that those who wish to, may give donations in the name of Gregor Smith to the Block Island Volunteer Fire and Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 220, Block Island R.I. 02807. Please visit: http://www.new-shoreham.com/displayboards.cfm?id=29.