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A Century of Tradition

William J “Juta” Smith 


Known to one and all as "Juta" Smith, gave many years of Invaluable service to the Society. One of our Founding members, he became Vice-President in 1927 and moved up to the Presidency the following year. AHM Thomas was slated to take over in 1928 but had to decline as he anticipated he would have to spend progressively more of his time outside Sao Paulo, so "Juta” was persuaded to stay in office for yet another year. In 1931 he was elected to the committee continuing to serve thereon until 1935. In 1936 he took over the job of the Society's representative to the St Dunstan's Hostel After Care Association Fund and in 1937 was elected President again. The following year he acted in an ex-oficio capacity and in 1939 he retired and left Brazil. He hailed from Dundee and came to Sao Paulo as Secretary and Treasurer of the Cia. Anglo Brasileira de Juta S.A., which company he had joined after Any Service In the 1914-18 war. It was then in the process of organisation, and in 1926 he became its Managing Director. He was a Past Master of the Lodge of Unity nº 5560 and at one time held the post of President of the São Paulo Branch of the British Legion.

Up till the time "Juta" started interesting himself in it affairs, the Society's only activity was the Annual Banquet but he was responsible for instituting the Essay Competition at St Paul's School and he also presented a set of Sir Walter Scott's books to the school library as the subject set for the early contests had always to do with the Laird of Ahbotsford's work. In this connection however, it is recorded in the minutes that at the Annual General Meeting in 1938, the retiring President "Juta" Smith reported that "to commemorate the accession to the throne of a Scottish Queen the Society had held a Coronation Essay Competition”.

Many other innovations were introduced while "Juta” Smith was at the helm. There was the children's Hallowe’en Party at the Church Hall; donations were made to home charities; the precursor. of today's “Haggis Alley Glee Club", termed the "Caledonia Octette", performed for tile first time at an "at Home" held in “Mappins" in 1938, which event foreshadowed today's get-togethers and Ladies’ Night. "Juta” was also instrumental in equipping our honorary Piper with "a uniform” in the Royal Stewart tartan at the Society's expense. But perhaps best of all, this outstanding character will be remembered by old-timers by the proposal he made, tongue in cheek, at the Annual General Meeting in 1933 to the effect that the Society should give serious consideration to subsidising the St George's Dinner. Whether our-friends from across the border took the hint or not, was not recorded.

“Juta" Smith was presented with a silver bowl subscribed to him by the members at a farewell social evening organised in his honour and held at SPAC on August 19th, 1939. On his retiral he returned to his hometown and lived there until his death in the late 1950s.

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