Maine outdoorsman, conservationist and author George Smith passed away Friday at age 72.

Smith, a longtime executive director of the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine, died at his home in Mount Vernon after a four-year battle with ALS.

“George loved Maine. And Maine loved George," Maine Gov. Janet Mills said in a statement. "I am deeply saddened by his passing. 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."

“George Smith’s life was defined by his love for the Maine outdoors and his dedication to preserving this integral part of our heritage" U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said in a statement. "The courage he showed as he dealt with the devastating impacts of ALS only furthered my admiration for him.

"George’s passion for hiking, hunting, fishing, and nature was eloquently expressed in his columns. His writings reflected his reverence for the beauty of every corner of Maine, gave a voice to the experiences of countless other sportsmen, and sparked a renewed appreciation for our state among his readers.

"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."

Smith had friends and allies among both sportsmen and conservationists.

“George was one of Maine’s greatest conservationists and most passionate outdoorsmen," said Lisa Pohlmann, CEO of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. "He leaves an enormous legacy of using his humor, powerful words, and deep experience in the outdoors to protect Maine’s woods, waters, and wildlife for future generations. Always humble and willing to do the right thing for Maine’s environment, George forever changed Maine for the better. He was a dear friend of NRCM’s and will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his family in this difficult time.”

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