There must have been at least fifty, maybe sixty of them parading through Nederland.  Graders, bulldozers, all kinds of heavy equipment.  And the people of Nederland showed up to pay their respects to this native born son and all the work he did for his community.

What a fitting tribute for a special man.

I never met him in person, yet I’m eternally grateful for all he did to make my life easier.

The effects of the work he did were experienced each day in my neighborhood near Nederland.

Mark Smith gave selflessly to help people living in and around Nederland through his work on the local roads.  As an employee of Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), he was incredibly skilled with road grading equipment.  Which matters a lot when you live off a private dirt road, connected to another dirt road.  And you use a shortcut to Boulder Canyon, affectionately referred to as The Summer Road, almost every day as part of your daily commute.

It’s ironic to reflect how much his work meant to me and the residents of Nederland.  Mainly because I grew up in a the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri where our cars never touched a dirt road.  Most of my life as a young adult was spent living around urban areas like Washington, DC or San Francisco.  The thought of driving a dirt road scared me.  What would happen to my car?  Would the oil pan get dented?  The car would get dirty and/or scratched!

Then we moved to Nederland nine years ago.  Our realtor took us out a bumpy dirt road to show us a rustic log home.  I remember feeling kind of shocked.  This place must be out in the stix, off a one lane dirt road.  

But I fell in love with our cabin, and the rest is history.  Dirt roads require lots of maintenance.  Our road is private, not county maintained, as well as The Summer Road.  During snow, rain and dry spells, dirt roads take a beating.  They become filled with potholes, or rippled with washboards.  Unless someone grades them, it only gets worse and worse with weather and continued traffic.

Enter someone like Mark Smith.  He took care of The Summer Road for years.  A road so steep and treacherous that most others wouldn’t touch it.  As I read stories in The Mountain Ear, apparently he did the same for many others, including The Twin Sisters Road.

Where would we have been without Mark Smith after the Great Flood of 2013?  Roads everywhere were wiped out or washed away.  He worked not only in Nederland but around the area to help repair roads during that very stressful time.

I heard his  name time and time again from friends, neighbors, co-workers.  He took on mythical status in my head.  If anyone can fix this road, it would be Mark.

Hopefully, he’s bulldozing his way on a big highway in the sky, looking over his hometown.