Surveyors Week: Past to Present, Part 1

Wenley Q. Smith, PS, was a pioneer of sorts in the southwest Michigan surveying world.

The son of the Van Buren County surveyor grew up helping his father survey property and work on drain projects and when Wenley returned home from serving in WW II, he continued survey work. In 1951, he succeeded his dad as the County surveyor and took over the helm of Smith & Smith Surveying & Engineering in Paw Paw.

His resume includes 50 years of continuous service as a member of the Michigan Society of Registered Land Surveyors, 22 of them as County surveyor. He also served as president of the MSRLS.

But his works may have been taken for grant. In the mid-1960’s, Wenley’s expertise and reputation earned him a spot on the team constructing a nuclear power plant near South Haven. Wenley and his firm were involved in conducting the boundary survey and fence layout. He surveyed over 40 miles of power transmission lines, encompassing over 100 parcels that each had to be surveyed and marked.

Wenley also won a project to survey transmission lines for the hydroelectric plant in Ludington, but he may have left his legacy in the creation of Lake Doster, in Plainwell. He worked with the developer to map and clear the site and built the dam and eventually layout the plat.

Before his long career ended, he worked with Gove & Associates in Kalamazoo. Fleis & VandenBrink (F&V) bought out Gove in 2006, just two years before Wenley’s passing. He may be gone, but we celebrate Wenley’s accomplishments today as a lineage of excellence.