Giving Back

Late Essex Fells Resident Honored with Plaque at Essex County Legends Way

County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, Jr., dedicates plaque in honor of Dr. Leon Smith with Assembly Speaker Emeritus Sheila Oliver, Dr. Leon Smith, Jr., and Essex County Democratic Chairman Leroy Jones. Credits: Glen Frieson

NEWARK, NJ — Late Essex Fells resident Dr. Leon Smith, a former infectious disease specialist at St. Michael's Medical Center in Newark, was recently honored by the county with a bronze memorial plaque that was placed along Essex County Legends Way alongside other community leaders who have impacted Essex County.

Essex County Legends Way, located at the Essex County Government Complex in Newark, was transformed from the former 13th Avenue on the southern side of the Essex County Hall of Records into a tree-lined promenade when the Jurors’ parking garage was opened in 2008. It now features bronze plaques recognizing people who have made significant contributions to Essex County.

“I believe there are three types of altruism in the world and the one I believe characterizes my father involves encountering strangers and giving them your all even when they cannot do anything for you,” said Smith’s son, Dr. Leon Smith, Jr. “My father believed everyone was a child of God and deserved your full attention. I know I have really big shoes to fill and I am very proud to be Leon Smith.”

Sign Up for E-News

Plaques were also dedicated to the late Balozi Harvey from South Orange, who was the director of the Essex County Office of Cultural Diversity and Affirmative Action & the Essex County Economic Development Corporation, and the late Lawrence “Lonnie” Wright from South Orange, who was a two-sport professional athlete and Director of Minority and Underrepresented Student Recruitment at UMDNJ, on that date.

“Balozi Harvey, Dr. Leon Smith and Lonnie Wright followed very different paths, but they each impacted the lives of many and made Essex County a better place,” said Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo. “They are deserving of being remembered as Essex County legends, and having their names at our government complex will remind people of their contributions.”

DiVincenzo added that Dr. Smith, who died on Dec. 19, 2016, dedicated his life to treating the sick and researching some of the most deadly diseases our society faces.

His plaque begins with a quote he is attributed to have said, which is: “I just love being a doctor. I love the challenge of solving diagnostic problems, I love tough cases — the tougher the better.”

It continues with the following:

“His father’s early death set young Leon Smith on the road to medicine, resulting in the development of a doctor with extraordinary diagnostic skills and worldwide leadership in the field of infectious disease. The son of Lebanese immigrants, he was the first in his family to attend high school. New York University and Georgetown Medical School followed. He brought all this knowledge and experience to St. Michael’s Hospital in Newark ~ where he practiced medicine for a half-century. His compassion for his neighborhood patients, mostly of little means, led him to develop the first Free Inner City Medical Clinic, Hepatitis and Leprosy clinics, and the first clinic for Fever of Unknown Origin in the country. His HIV/AIDS clinic was the first in the state and second in America, as was the in-patient AIDS Unit. With accolades and honors bestowed throughout the years, he left a personal legacy, too. A loving marriage of 54 years, four of his five children are doctors and two of his 15 grandchildren are in medical school, with more to follow. Dr. Leon G. Smith saved scores of lives, trained a multitude of physicians, and established new boundaries for medical care. Essex County is proud of him and grateful for his work.”

The plaques at “Legends Way” currently feature:

  • Major League Baseball Hall of Fame players Yogi Berra, Larry Doby and Monte Irvin;
  • John J. Clancy, who served as the first Director of the Essex County Division of Youth Services;
  • Adrian M. Foley, Jr., who served as Essex County Surrogate;
  • Samuel Brummer, owner of Hobby’s Delicatessen and veteran who landed at D-Day during World War II;
  • Cephas Bowles, longtime WBGO Executive Director; the late Larrie West Stalks, former Essex County Register;
  • Clement A. Price, Rutgers University History Professor and Newark and Essex County Historian;
  • D. Bilal Beasley, Irvington City Councilman and Essex County Freeholder;
  • Raymond Durkin, long-time Chairman of the Essex County Democratic Committee and New Jersey Democratic Party;
  • Philip Thigpen, Essex County Register and long-time Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman;
  • Thomas Durkin, a prominent Essex County attorney;
  • Lena Donaldson Griffith, a cultural arts and civil rights pioneer in Newark and Essex County;
  • Raymond Brown, a civil rights leader and long-time attorney; and
  • Superior Court Justice Thomas “Timmy” McCormack, who was one of the authors of the County’s current Administrative Code and Freeholder By-Laws.

Pictured above with DiVincenzo after the plaque was unveiled are (from left) Assembly Speaker Emeritus Sheila Oliver, Smith's son Dr. Leon Smith, Jr., and Essex County Democratic Chairman Leroy Jones.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

West Essex

$100 OFF per Week for Summer Camp Now!

July 12, 2018

Guerrero Marital Arts is now offering an 8-week summer camp for summer 2018!

Pick which weeks you want!

Camp Weeks are:

July 16, July 23, July 30, August 6, August 13, August 20, August 27

Includes the following:

Fun (through Sports, Play and Games)
Field Trips (may cost extra)
Life Lessons
Reading Time
Martial Arts
A great place to ...

Bucco Couture Summer Sale on All Custom Suits, Shirts and Casual Wear

NUTLEY, NJ — Save while looking sharp! 20% off all summer wear an extra 10% savings for Military, Veterans and all first responders at Bucco Couture, 187 Franklin Avenue in Nutley, with the launch of some new products such as our tracksuit line, crushed cotton drawstring pants and jeans. 

We also carry Bugatchi and Rober Graham casual wear as well as stretch high V-neck ...

Newark Lures Amazon With $1 Billion Payroll Tax Incentive

July 14, 2018

NEWARK, NJ - Amazon will get a payroll tax break at a cost of $1 billion to the city should the company open its second headquarters in Newark, according to one of two ordinances approved by the Newark City Council council to sweeten the deal for the corporate giant and stand out among other locations vying for Amazon’s so-called HQ2.

“The City Council has brought Newark a ...

Upcoming Events


Mon, July 23, 10:00 AM

Roseland Free Public Library, Roseland

Walking for Fitness

Health & Wellness


Mon, July 23, 4:00 PM

Roseland Free Public Library, Roseland

Lego Mindstorms


Tue, July 24, 10:00 AM

Cedar Grove Park, Cedar Grove

Matarazzo Farms Farmers Market Every Tuesday in ...

Food & Drink

Matarazzo Farms Farmers Market Every Tuesday in Cedar Grove

July 17, 2018

CEDAR GROVE, NJ - Join Matarazzo Farms for its Farmer's Market every Tuesday through the fall at the new Cedar Grove Park on Fairview Avenue from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. directly in front of the Robert J. O'Toole Community center in Cedar Grove.

Matarazzo Farms will have fresh local produce naturally grown plus some other specialties like fresh cut ...


Mar 23, 1932 - Jun 2, 2018
Obituary - Donald J. Cooney, March 23, 1932 to June 2, 2018 Donald J. Cooney, 86, of North ...
Read more

Would Shedding

How much wood wouldn’t a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck woodn’t?


Enough already.  


I get it.  It is an easy mistake to make, misusing would and wouldn’t.  It happens to me all the time.


“Honey, when I said I didn’t see any reason why I would go to the ballet, I meant to say I couldn’t see ...