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Fairfielder Plans Tribute for 'Great Hero'

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – William Lee wants to help restore the memory of one of Fairfield’s most accomplished residents. He took the first step toward that Wednesday evening, asking permission to replace the headstone of Samuel Smedley, a Fairfield native and Revolutionary War hero who rests in Fairfield’s Old Burial Ground.

“He was one of the greatest heroes that was born and raised in Fairfield,” Lee said.

Smedley served as captain of the Connecticut-based Defence in the American Revolution. Even after the war he was entrusted as protector of the northeast seaboard, Lee told the board Wednesday. Smedley’s life story was told by local journalist Jackson Kuhl in the book “Samuel Smedley: Connecticut Privateer,” published earlier this year.

Lee said he was inspired by a photo in Kuhl’s book to restore Smedley’s grave site. The original grave marker in the historic Beach Road cemetery was broken in half, and cannot be repaired. Lee has already set up a trust for donations to replace the marker.

To do so, Lee first needs permission from the Board of  Selectmen and the Representative Town Meeting to make changes to the town-owned cemetery. The selectmen approved his request Wednesday, and the RTM will vote on the petition later this month. If they sign off on the plan, Lee will go to a public hearing in probate court for permission to redo the grave site.

Lee hopes to be able to unveil the new grave marker on June 13, 2012 — 200 years to the day after Smedley’s death. “If we can restore that grave site, I think it would be a wonderful tribute to this hero,” he said.

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