A local resident is a part of a national organization with one major commonalty — his name.
Wapakoneta native and owner of Insta-Shade, Jim Smith, is apart of the Jim Smith Society. This group has approximately 2,000 members throughout the United States and the group’s sole purpose is getting together for fellowship and celebrating a name they all share.
“It’s like a giant family reunion,” the 1977 Wapakoneta High School graduate said.
The Jim Smith Society was started in 1969 by the late Jim Smith, of Camp Hill, Pa. He worked for a newspaper in Harrisburg, Pa. and his job duties included typing up the police blotter. While he typed up the blotter, he ran into many other people named Jim Smith. So this sparked the idea to create a group where everyone shared the same name as him.
“My mom signed me up in 1974,” Smith said, who was 14-years-old at the time.
His mother found an advertisement in Grit Magazine about the group when she signed her son up.
Smith attended his first Jim Smith Fun Fest in 1974, which was held in Harrisburg, Pa.
The group meets for their annual meeting once a year during the third weekend of July.
During the annual outings, each Jim Smith, along with their family, travel to a different destination, and they participate in different activities including a golf outing, a Jim Smith softball game and ‘Jim’go which is similar to bingo.
“We have an all-Jim Smith softball game, and every player is named Jim Smith, so you’ll never have to ask who’s on first (base),” Smith said, with a laugh.
At each conference, to prevent confusion, each Jim is called by their hometown. Smith refers to himself as “Wapak Jim.”
Smith said he has been to many different places, including San Francisco, Minneapolis and Colorado Springs, Colo.
“I’ve been able to see a lot of the United States that we probably wouldn’t have otherwise,” Smith said.
When Smith was chair of the group in 2002, he planned the annual summer convention in Columbus and was glad to host the event in his home state.
To be a member of the organization, either a first or middle name must be James or Jim, and the last name must be Smith.
Smith’s son, Matthew James, and his grandson, Brant James, are also both members of the club.
“When we introduce ourselves, we say our hometown and what number we are,” Smith said.
Smith is number 395, because he was the 395th person inducted into the club.
“My grandson is number 1,801,” Smith said. “He has learned to introduce himself with this number, especially at school. A teacher said that he stands up and says his name and number 1,801 at school.”
During the 1980s and 1990s, Smith said that he, his wife, Barbara, and his family never missed a convention.
“We have people who come from all walks of life,” Smith said, of other members in the club.
Smith said that he has made many life-long friends through this club.
Smith said that Jim Smith is the name that appears the most on the Vietnam Wall, 3,800 Jim Smiths were involved in World War II and Jim Smith has held every elected office, besides president and vice president. The most famous Jim Smith is the one who sign the Declaration of Independence.
There is an article on the Jim Smith Society in American Profile.