Claude B. Smalts, Jr '34 | Handley 100th Notable
Claude B. Smalts, Jr ’34

Claude Smalts was born in Winchester in 1916 and started helping his father in the family business on National Avenue when he was 12 years old. Shortly after his graduation from Handley, his father had a heart attack and Claude began managing the company.

After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Claude returned to his business, Smalts Florists.  Over time, he was a member and president of both the Middle Atlantic Florist Association and the District 3-H Florists Transworld Delivery Association (FTD). He received the FTD’s Outstanding Member Award for the State of Virginia.

Claude was elected to the Winchester City Council in 1948. He served as Vice Mayor from 1954 to 1956 and Mayor from 1956 to 1964. During his time on council, the city opened the Percy D. Miller Water Treatment Plant on the Shenandoah River, created the Industrial Development Corporation to expand the city’s industrial base, and helped to relocate Shenandoah Conservatory from Dayton to Winchester.

His time on council was a period of expansion as well as racial desegregation. He quietly worked to encourage other retailers to hire Black sales clerks. His daughter, Bessie Solenberger, said that his stand for equality was typical of his compassion for all city residents.

He was a member, President and Director of the Winchester-Frederick County Chamber of Commerce and received the Chamber’s "Outstanding Citizen Award" in 1964.

He was Vice President of the Winchester Jaycees where he was awarded Life Time Honorary Membership and received the Jaycees Distinguished Service Award in 1951. He received their "Boss of the Year" award in 1973.

He was a charter member of the Winchester Exchange Club. He was the Executive Secretary of the S.P.C.A. and served on the boards of the Shenandoah Valley National Bank, the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. He was a member of the American Legion, the Izaak Walton League, the Judges Athletic Association, and an honorary life member of the Optimist Club.

Adrian O’Connor described Claude as “a visionary” at the time of his death in December 2007. “He was a small businessman who served both his customers and his community.”

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