Always a Move Ahead with Phillip Smaby (2008)

Printing and Book Design: Virginia Woodruff, Editing: Bob Waite

Phil Smaby is the retired owner of Bermel-Smaby Realty in Minneapolis who grew up in Peterson, Minnesota and went on to have an extremely successful career in real estate. He was the president of the National Association (NAR) of Realtors and an International Association of Realtors (FIABCI).


I don't care how sophisticated you are, you get goose bumps when you visit the White House. It's such an impressive thing to walk into the Oval Office and say, "How do you do, Mr. President." It is an unforgettable moment, because you are in the presence of the most powerful man in the world. Yet each president I met came across as the kind of person you would like to join for lunch. This was particularly true of George H.W. Bush. He was just "old shoe."

One of the strangest encounters in my life occurred at the White House in 1960. I was Commodore of the Minneapolis Aquatennial that year. Gail Nygaard, who was Queen of the Lakes, Margaret, and I went to Washington D.C. to invite President Eisenhower to become the grand marshal of the Aquatennial Parade. (He would decline.) I was dressed in my full Aquatennial regalia, in which I looked like a high-ranking military official. I had more bars and stripes on my uniform than an admiral, and I sported an admiral-like hat. We had hoped to meet Eisenhower, but weren't able to do so because he was hosting a foreign dignitary. However, we did visit with Eisenhower's staff in the oval office. We presented them frozen walleyed pike and some Indian moccasins. We left the White House with Hubert Humphrey, senator from Minnesota. As we walked across the White House lawn, we came upon a marine general and his entourage. He looked at me in all of my regalia and noticed that he was outranked, since I had more stripes. He had no idea who I was, however I was coming out of the White House accompanied by a senator, so he must have thought I was important. As we passed, the general and his whole crew "hopped to" and saluted. I decided that it was simpler to return the salute than to explain I was a peon commodore of an Aquatennial festival in Minnesota, so I saluted and continued on. If he's alive today, I'll bet he is still wondering who I was.