Shirley Day Smith Dies; Beloved NYRA Press Office Assistant Was 99

Shirley Day Smith, who spent more than 60 years as the administrative assistant in the press office for the New York Racing Association and its predecessors, died Thursday, September 20, 2018, after a brief illness at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, N.Y.  She was 99 years old.

Smith had retired from NYRA in the mid-1990’s. Among the publicity directors she worked for were Pat O’Brien, Pat Lynch, Sam Kanchuger, Chris Scherf, Steve Schwartz and Glen Mathes.

“Shirley was loved by everybody,” Mathes said. “And I’d venture to say she helped more people than anyone in the history of horse racing. That was certainly true when it came to members of the media. She was a great worker and an even better person.”

Mathes recalled a humorous incident involving Smith when there was a triple dead heat at Belmont Park in October 1991.

“Shirley said, ‘We’re going to need a lot of copies of that photo finish picture because I remember we did the last time it happened,’” Mathes said. “The last time it had happened was 47 years earlier, in the 1944 Carter Handicap.”

Free-lance writer Paula Rodenas, a close friend who is handling the funeral arrangements, said, “We were friends for over 30 years. She took me under her wing when I first started covering horse racing and she was a mentor to me through all that time.”

Smith, who lived in Lido Beach, N.Y., was a popular figure among media from throughout the country.  She was honored as a Kentucky Colonel and she was a recipient of the National Turf Writers  Association’s Joe Palmer Award for meritorious service to racing. The New York Press Photographers Association presented her with a “Good Gal Award” in 1987 for cooperation and assistance to the media.

She was the backbone of the New York Turf Writers Association for many years.

Jim McCulley, a New York Daily News sportswriter, was her longtime companion.

A funeral is planned for Monday, September 24, 2018, at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church in Point Lookout, NY, with the burial afterward at the Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.

The post Shirley Day Smith Dies; Beloved NYRA Press Office Assistant Was 99 appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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