Many in the community have come to pay their respects to longtime Burbank Parks and Recreation Leader Toney Smith, who passed away last week due to complications of a stroke.
Smith, who spent 15 years working for the city, was 71.
A memorial has been set up to remember Smith in front of the Olive Park Recreation Center.
Recreation Supervisor Christine Rumfola said Smith had a hand in so many sports programs in the city.
“He was instrumental in reviving our flag football program,” Rumfola said. “He loved doing instructional leagues with the little kids.”
Smith also built the youth track and field and cross country programs.
Rumfola said Smith, who played football and baseball at Weber State University, was very active.
“He loved all the sports. He still played in the men’s basketball league. He played men’s fast pitch for years and years. He was in excellent shape. Everywhere he went you would see the kids just running up to him.”
Smith’s popularity inspired many children to play sports.
“We have people that sign up just because they want to be with coach Toney,” Rumfola said.
Because of his popularity, there were even some concerns about the memorial set up as it relates to COVID-19 and social distancing.
“We have talked to the police about it as long as they (people) weren’t congregating,” Rumfola said. “The staff knows not to take it away as it will continue to grow.”
Krystin Amber Thomas, who is the assistant softball coach at Burbank High, has known Smith for years and said he played a key role in her life.
“Toney Smith was truly a magnetic, inspirational individual who exemplified selflessness and humility by devoting countless hours of his time to others,” Thomas said. “He had a unique ability to nurture athletic talent while motivating a player to love any sport they were involved in. Toney brought a heart of gold to each sporting event he was seen at, and in turn passed on his contagious warmth, compassion, and work ethic to all who knew him. He will be incredibly missed by everyone in Burbank and will be forever remembered and cherished in our hearts.”
The Burbank City Council is planning to adjourn its May 5 meeting in Smith’s memory.
Services are pending.