About Benjamin A. Smith II, U.S. Senator
Benjamin Atwood Smith II (March 26, 1916 – September 6, 1991) was a United States Senator from the state of Massachusetts from December 1960 until November 1962.
Family and education
Smith, who was named for his grandfather Benjamin A. Smith, was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts to R. Russell and Grace Smith. He married Barbara M. (Mechem) of Lake Forest, Illinois and Annisquam, Mass. They had five children, sons, R. Russell Smith 2d and Benjamin A. Smith 3d, an ice hockey player and coach, and daughters, Barbara (Smith) Ramsey, Susan (Smith) Crotty, and Cathleen Smith.
Smith attended the Gloucester public schools. Smith was captain of the 1933 Gloucester High School football team under coach Nate Ross. He later graduated from Governor Dummer Academy and Harvard University. While at Harvard, Smith played fullback on the football team under coach Dick Harlow. At Harvard, Smith was a roommate of John F. Kennedy.
Smith served in the United States Navy for four years during World War II. While he was in the Navy, Smith served in the Pacific as Commander on an anti-submarine, anti-torpedo vessel.
Smith served as a member of the Gloucester School Committee, the Gloucester City Council and was a trustee of the Addison Gilbert Hospital. Smith served as Mayor of Gloucester from 1954 to 1955; however, at the time Smith was mayor, Gloucester had a Plan E form of government. The office of mayor was a ceremonial position, the mayor was a city councilor chosen by that body and the actual city administration was carried out by a professional city manager.
For many years Smith was the chief executive of his family's business, the Merchants Box Company in Gloucester.
John F. Kennedy resigned from the Senate on December 22, 1960, after he was elected President of the United States. Kennedy, who had been reelected to a second Senate term of six years in 1958, advised Gov. Foster Furcolo of Massachusetts to appoint Smith to fill the vacated seat "in the interest of promoting party unity." Critics said Smith, a close friend of the Kennedy family, was intended all along to simply be a "seat-warmer" until the President-elect's brother, Edward M. Kennedy, turned thirty (the minimum age provided by the U.S. Constitution for eligibility to serve in the Senate). Smith served as Senator until November 6, 1962, when Edward Kennedy, his duly elected successor, was chosen in a special election.
In 1963, President Kennedy named Smith as the chairman of the U.S. delegation to the North Pacific Fisheries Conference involving the United States, the Soviet Union, Canada and Japan.
Death and burial
Smith died after a long illness in the Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester and was buried in the Calvary Cemetery in Gloucester.