Dennis “CW” Smith
Dennis or “CW” as most referred to him, lived his entire life in Oregon. CW graduated from Crater High School in 1966, where he was elected as the student body vice-president. Following high school, he earned a degree from Mount Hood Community College in Broadcast Journalism. He served four years in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War.
CW was an officer for the Medford Police Department from 1973 until elected Jackson County Sheriff in 1982 at the young age of 35. He was re-elected sheriff for two more terms and remained sheriff for a total of 12 years. As Jackson County Sheriff, he was involved with new and innovative programs, including Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) which he brought to the kids of Jackson County. He was elected president of Southern Oregon Drug Awareness and was responsible for revitalizing Jackson County’s Search and Rescue program and reinvigorating the Jackson County Marine Patrol program. The Children’s Advocacy Center was also part of his early work, “standing up for children, seeing children as victims” he once said. C.W. was voted Oregon “Sheriff of the Year” from 1989 to 1990. From 2003 to 2004 he served as the Jackson County Sheriff’s Administrative Services Division Captain.
Upon leaving the sheriff’s department, CW served as interim City Manager for Lakeview, Oregon and as Police Chief for the City of Talent. Never a person to be idle, he was a radio talk show host, a private insurance business owner, and manager of a large farming operation. In 2005, CW was elected Jackson County Commissioner where he continued to serve his beloved Rogue Valley until his retirement in 2013.
CW loved to fish and spend time at Diamond Lake living his motto, “The family that fishes together, stays together.” A gifted artist, he did incredible pen and ink drawings, and sculptures. CW was a proud member of the Chickasaw Nation and felt strongly connected to his Native American heritage. Prior to his death in 2017, CW was quoted as saying “it was an honor to serve the people of southern Oregon. I’ve made many, many friends and I’m proud of things we tried to accomplish. And I hope I’ve made southern Oregon a better place in the communities I have served in.”