A Black Country wordsmith who made his name after one of his poems appeared in the Express & Star has died, aged 71.
Alfie Smith, from West Bromwich, performed his poetry across the region, brushing shoulders with stars, including Julie Walters, Jasper Carrot, Eddie Large, Brian Conley and Don McLean.
He was taken to Sandwell Hospital after suffering a perforated bowel last month and died four weeks later.
Paying tribute to him today, his daughter-in-law Michelle Smith said: “There was so much that happened in his life that it’s quite difficult to list it all. He really was popular.
“There have been so many people knocking on our door to send their best wishes. It has been wonderful.”
Mr Smith, of Willett Road, had been writing most of his life but it was only after one of his poems appeared in the Express & Star – a tribute to Princess Diana on the back of her death in 1997 – that his fame grew.
The former Sandwell Council curator, who died on March 13, became a regular guest on Ed Doolan and Carl Chinn’s radio programmes and appeared on stage at Symphony Hall, Birmingham, at the same event as Julie Walters.
He also released a number of his poems in Black Country dialect on CD and his portrait was displayed at an exhibition at Birmingham Art Gallery in 2011.
“He was an amusing man,” added 44-year-old Mrs Smith, who lives in the Stone Cross area of West Bromwich.
“He had a love and a passion for Black Country dialect. That’s who he was to the core.
“He was a true Black Country man.”
Lifelong Sandwell resident Mr Smithn was a West Bromwich Albion fan and had five grandchildren and two sons – Stuart, aged 43, and Stephen, 45.
He also leaves behind his wife Diane, 69.
Alfie’s family have now invited anyone who knew him to pay their tributes at his funeral at Sandwell Valley Crematorium next Tuesday – on what would have been his 72nd birthday.
Mrs Smith added: “He would have loved the fact he was being buried on his birthday.
“I’m sure he would have found it quite amusing.”
Black Country historian Carl Chinn said: “I met Alfie a number of times and he was always such a lively, thoughtful and talented person.
“He was one of a small band of hardy poets who have worked so hard to keep our dialect alive.”