Keeping Meridian's history alive: Roger Smith

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Each month we shine the spotlight on one person who goes above and beyond to make a difference in our Eleven Who Care series. This month, that person is the man behind the scenes at one of Meridian's oldest and most iconic buildings: the manager of the Temple Theater.

For almost a decade, Roger Smith has been the manager of Meridian's Temple Theater - a position he says he always wanted.

"I had always wanted an old theater.," he says. "My whole life I worked in theaters. As a kid, I was an usher and a projectionist. And this theater embodied everything I was looking for."

He's passionate about his work and proud of what the theater has to offer.

The building was built in 1927. But when it was put up for sale in 2008, Meridian risked losing the theater. After Smith stepped into his new role as manager, he registered the Temple as a 501(c)(3) organization that operates with no paid staff, including himself. During that time, he's worked to keep the history alive, even though tough economic times.

Fellow volunteer Jean Orcutt nominated Smith.

"Had I had to rank him with 20-something commanding officers that I worked with at the navy base, he would be right up there in the top five," Orcutt says.

She says she's watched him work every job possible, often seven days a week, while still making time to help others.

"He sees someone out in front of the building that's a little down on their luck, I have seen him go out there and give them a few dollars, when he really doesn't have it to give," Orcutt says. "And I've seen him literally one time give a man the shirt off his back, and that's no lie."

While Smith says he knows one day, someone else will fill his shoes, he's just thankful for his time here helping the legacy of the Temple live on.

"It's been like a dream. That's the best way to describe it," he says. "Every day in Meridian has been like a dream."

If you'd like to nominate someone for Eleven Who Care, you can stop by the station to pick up an application or print one from the link attached.