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Camden New Journal - OBITUARY
Published: 28 August 2009

David Smith
David, among first to fight for gay rights

HE had fiery red hair, a temper to match and protected Finsbury library’s vinyls with his life.
David Smith, a stalwart of gay rights activism and a beloved character who dedicated more than 30 years to Islington’s libraries, has died aged 76.
Mr Smith had worked as a music librarian at the library since the 1960s, but retired nearly a decade ago.
Originally from Bristol, Mr Smith was a Barnado’s child but was later adopted.
Close friend councillor Meral Ece, who worked with Mr Smith in her very first job as a library assistant in Finsbury Library, is helping to organise his funeral.
She said: “So many people knew him.
“He was one of the first openly gay men of his generation.
“He was one of the early gay rights campaigners for equality in yhr 60s and 70s. He was very brave.
“There was a lot of homophobia. He put up with abuse and attacks.
“He was into the arts, music and the theatre. He retired 10 years ago but people still remember him. He was full of life even if he was in his 70s.
“It’s a terrible shock. He was adopted as a baby and had no other family. But he made a success of his life. Everyone knew him. His friends were his family.”
Mr Smith spent his spare time involved in amateur dramatics, and loved art, tapestry and writing film reviews.
After retiring from Islington, he continued working as a volunteer at the Natural History Museum.
Cllr Ece said: “His contribution to Islington’s libraries was enormous.
“He had very strong views. He was outspoken. What he didn’t know about music didn’t exist. His records were his life.
“He was an eccentric. Some people complained his manner was a bit too direct but in the end you had to admire him.
“He had red hair, which later turned silver, and a fiery temper.
“He was a one-off. There aren’t people like him anymore.”
Mr Smith’s funeral will take place on Friday, September 4, at the North East Surrey Crematorium at 11am. Tributes or donations to the British Heart Foundation through Funeral Directors: Frederick W Paine, 6 Coombe Lane, Raynes Park SW20 8ND. 020 8946 1974.
Róisín Gadelrab

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