Paul Smith, former editor and co-owner of this newspaper’s predecessor, the Sydney Star, in the early 1980s, died from a heart attack on Saturday aged 56.

Smith was survived by his partner of 14 years, SSO office manager Gary Stocks, and siblings Bernie, Stephanie, Tim and Damian.

Trained as an architect, Smith instead chose to pursue life and career with as many diverse interests as possible, particularly in politics, media and community.

He joined Campaign Against Moral Persecution (CAMP) soon after its founding in the mid-1970s, where he met Bob Hay who would be his partner for 15 years. The pair were strong supporters of the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service, and were among the first gay couples to move to Newtown before the suburb became a gay enclave.

Smith joined the Star in 1981 and together with Hay, Richard Turner and Tony Cooper, bought the newspaper from its founder Michael Glynn.

Turner said Smith really came into his own during their ownership in the early ’80s. He filled many roles including journalist and layout designer.

Larry Galbraith, a later editor, said Smith continued to provide guidance after the paper was sold again in 1985.

Paul was a very calm, level-headed person, who in his own quiet way kept the ship afloat, Galbraith said.

He was the least well known to the general public, surrounded by larger than life characters with big egos, but his role was far more significant than the public knew.

Smith remained a Star director after leaving to join Media Monitors. He later established his own market research consultancy, Status Quo.

Smith was a long-term survivor of HIV and attributed his general good health to surfing the wave of science. His death was related to genetic heart disease.

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