About 200 guests recently gathered at Smoker Family Park on Riverwalk’s south bank to honor Stanford K. Smoker for his role in revitalizing the Downtown Fort Lauderdale and helping to preserve some of its historic treasures. The benefit event and “friend raiser” for the Riverwalk Trust was hosted by the Executives’ Association of Fort Lauderdale.

Smoker moved his wife and three children to Fort Lauderdale in the 1950s, trading an executive role at his family’s Indiana manufacturing firm for a start in South Florida. Launching a career in construction materials and later in real estate, Smoker eventually became a prominent developer. When Broward’s growing suburbs eclipsed Downtown, he saw the New River’s potential to become the centerpiece of a thriving urban center. He gradually assembled land along the river’s banks, and in the early 1970s, announced plans for Downtown’s first high-rise-apartments. A sky bridge would connect residential towers on the north and south banks.

Friends with earlier Fort Lauderdale pioneers Ivy Stranahan and Annie Beck, he understood the importance of preserving historic structures on his property. He was responsible for saving the 1907 King-Cromartie House and the Annie Beck House, and with his family and friends preserved trees including the 130-year-old oak at the corner of East Las Olas Blvd. and Tarpon Drive.

While the County’s need for land to expand the courthouse changed his high-rise plans decades ago, the parcels Smoker sold through the years have evolved into high-rise condominiums. The oak-shaded green space just west of the Henry Kinney Tunnel has officially been named Smoker Family Park.

“This is a unique park for local residents to enjoy,” said Executives’ Association of Fort Lauderdale President John Ray III, “and we’re delighted to honor Stan and his family for their dedication to the city’s history and future potential.”

The Executives’ Association of Fort Lauderdale is one of Broward County’s leading business networking organizations. The organization is comprised of key executives of 116 different businesses in Broward County, pledged to the highest business and professional standards. For more information, call 954-492-2920 or visit www.ftlexecs.com.

The Riverwalk Trust serves as the catalyst in building and nurturing Riverwalk as a vibrant community connected by the New River. Riverwalk Trust accomplishes this mission through advocacy on behalf of the Riverwalk Park, communication through its Web site and Go Riverwalk magazine, its diverse offerings of events and its membership activities. For more information, call (954) 468-1541 or visit www.GoRiverwalk.com.