Mark Smith will crown the Rose Festival queen Saturday

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Mark Smith, a 1966 graduate of Sherwood High School, is this year's prime minister for the Royal Rosarians. Smith is a long-time Sherwood-area resident whose daytime job is that of a forester.A Sherwood resident will oversee the knighting of 51 honorees on Friday morning as part of the Royal Rosarians’ knighting ceremony.

Mark Smith, who is this year’s prime minister of the Royal Rosarians, those 282 men and women in the fancy white suits and white straw hats who serve as the “official greeters and ambassadors of goodwill for the city of Portland,” will knight the honorees in Portland’s Oregon Square Park.

Among them will be Nancy Hales, the wife of Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, and Mike Irwin, head of Homeland Security for the state of Oregon.

But that’s not all Smith, a 1966 Sherwood High School graduate, will oversee.

On Saturday, he will conduct the crowning of the 100th Rose Festival queen.

“I’m the one who places the crown on the new queen’s head,” said Smith, 65, on Tuesday in between making last-minute preparations for major Rose Festival events.

So is Smith excited about the upcoming events and coronation?

“Are you kidding?” he asked. “That’s quite a big deal.”

As of Tuesday, not even Smith knew which of the 15 princesses would be queen.

Smith, who “grew up in Sherwood when it was nothing,” said he finds his selection in the much-sought-after prime minister position as quite an honor.

“I’m the first forester to be prime minister in 102 years and... I’m the first prime minister to be from Sherwood,” he said.

Smith is also happy the Portland Rose Festival has another connection to Sherwood. The Mixolydians, a vocal group from Sherwood High School, will be among those performing during the coronation ceremonies.

After graduating from Sherwood High School, where he had a role in the school’s production of the musical “South Pacific,” Smith pursued a degree in forestry from Oregon State University. He would later spend a year as a first lieutenant aboard the destroyer USS Turner Joy off the coast of North Vietnam. (The Turner Joy was one of the principal ships involved in the Gulf of Tonkin incident.)

Smith, who lives off of Ladd Hill Road, said he’s been a member of the Royal Rosarians for 17 years, having been sponsored by a friend from the Lake Oswego Rotary Club.

In August, Smith and 80 other Royal Rosarians will be taking a goodwill tour of Russia, traveling from Moscow to St. Petersburg via a chartered cabin boat.

The irony of the visit isn’t lost on the fact that in the 1970s, Smith’s U.S. ship used to hunt for Russian submarines.

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