THE first and only Mayor’s Consort in the history of Sunderland has died.
Raymond Smith, 78, suffered a fatal heart attack last Wednesday.
The pensioner, of Humbledon Hill, had been unwell after suffering two previous heart attacks.
Wife of 54 years, Mary, 78, who was Mayor from 2008 to 2009, said he will be remembered as a proud man.
“Raymond was proud of me when I was Mayor,” she said. “He insisted on escorting me and assisting me with what I was doing.
“He was very proud of our daughters Susan and Lesley, and our six grandsons, too.”
Mary, a former councillor of Pallion and Hendon, chose Raymond to be her Mayoral Consort – a role traditionally carried out by female friends or relatives.
“He insisted on coming with me on trips and whatever I was doing, despite sometimes being unwell,” she said.
“One one occasion I was asked by an Army base in Germany to go over and present the soldiers coming back from Afghanistan with their medals, and even though he was unwell, Raymond wanted to come with me.
“He took a bad turn when we were travelling home, but thankfully it turned out OK.”
A former marine engineer, the keen artist moved his family to Canada for a few years before returning to Wearside in 1974.
He then went on to work as an engineer for Rolls-Royce before retiring.
Mary, who stood down as Mayor in 2010, said she did so because of Raymond’s declining health. “I wanted to spend time with him and take care of him,” she said.
“We didn’t do much, but he loved art and his painting kept him entertained for quite a while.”
Ex-Sunderland Echo journalist Carol Roberton said Raymond will also be remembered for his charity work.
“His artwork was much in demand as prizes for his wife’s fund-raising for her chosen Mayor’s charities,” she said.
“His subjects ranged from industrial scenes – particularly ships on the river – to pastorals and portraiture, and his paintings were also given to visiting dignitaries as mementoes of their visit to Sunderland.”
The funeral will take place on Thursday at Saint Mary’s and Saint Peter’s Church, Springwell Road, at 2.15pm.
A service will follow at Sunderland Crematorium at 3pm.