Maine sportsman and writer George Smith, center, is pictured with Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Judy Camuso and deputy commissioner Tim Peabody after getting a lifetime achievement award in 2019. Credit: Courtesy of MDIFW

Maine sportsman and writer George Smith died at age 72 Friday after a 4-year battle with ALS.

Smith was a Winthrop native and lived in Mount Vernon for more than 40 years. Perhaps best known as the former executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, he was diagnosed with ALS — also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease — in 2017 and continued his career as a writer afterward.

“I am physically unable to hunt and fish, but friends still take me with them. I am not complaining because I enjoy a lifetime of great memories of hunting and fishing adventures,” Smith said in 2018 about adjusting to his diagnosis. “I’ve heard from people from Alaska to Italy. And I feel blessed to have so many friends who are eager to help us.”

Smith stepped down at the end of 2010 from the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. A graduate of University of Maine in Orono, he was an outdoor contributor for the Bangor Daily News and wrote weekly editorial-page and travel columns in the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel.

“As the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine for nearly two decades, George built a proud and enduring legacy of conservation. Current and future generations of outdoor recreationalists will be forever grateful for George’s advocacy,” said U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, a longtime friend of Smith, called him “tough, smart, and deeply determined to protect the boundless beauty of Maine.”

Islandport Press published a book of Smith’s favorite columns, “A Life Lived Outdoors” in 2014. In 2016, Down East Books published a book, “Maine Sporting Camps,” and Islandport Press published a travel book co-written with Smith’s wife, Linda, called, “Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.

“An avid sportsman, a prolific writer, and a good-natured friend to all, George Smith was the very embodiment of the character of Maine: strong but kind, independent but compassionate, wise but humble,” Gov. Janet Mills said of his passing.

“We will miss his humor, his caring, his written words, his stories, and his humanity. George was a man who loved and knew Maine, with every bone in his body and every breath of life,” said Pete Didisheim, advocacy director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

He is survived by his wife, his children and grandchildren, his brother Gordon and sister Edie.