A tip of the top hat goes to retired Morewood dairy farmer Bill Smirle whose influence has always extended way beyond agriculture and his North Dundas base.

More often clad in suit and tie than coveralls and barn boots, Smirle is North Dundas Township’s latest Community Builder Award recipient. Conservation and health care stand out as two of his most dedicated causes.

But there’s more, much more to recommend Smirle who took over the family farm after his father died and operated it for a decade before handing it off to son Glenn; it’s now a 300-acre cash crop enterprise. Married to wife Nancy Wilson, Smirle also has three daughters Corinne, Kimberly and Roxanne.

Smirle would be the first to say his 60 years of community service brought him at least as much satisfaction as farming as witnessed by the community recognition. However, he has remained a staunch defender of agricultural rights while promoting environmental protection, maintaining that one shouldn’t overrule the other.

Smirle’s volunteerism extended from the Morewood Fire Department and local recreation association, to North Dundas Council (Deputy Mayor), Winchester District Memorial Hospital Board of Directors and its charitable foundation, as well as South Nation Conservation where we has recently elected to a new term as vice-chair after serving in the past as chair.

Some of Smirle’s other tours of duty have been with the Dundas Federation of Agriculture, Chesterville Agricultural Society, North Dundas Chamber of Commerce, and Dundas Manor where he chairs the board and is leading planning for a new long-term care facility. In a rare foray to the federal level, Smirle served as chair of the National Farm Products Council.

Perhaps more than anything, Smirle is known for chairing a successful multi-million dollar campaign to upgrade the Winchester hospital. In a communique congratulating Smirle on his most recent award, the WDMH Board cited his “tireless” health-care volunteer efforts.

In acknowledging the honour, Smirle said he barely recognized himself when his accomplishments were recited. He referred to those with “abilities and forethought” who helped him get the various jobs done.

Perhaps, but those who have known him recognize that it has been Smirle at the centre of many important community achievements.