Steven Smith, a D.C. resident since the early 1980s and the owner of the Capitol Hill gay bar Remington’s, died April 15 at Georgetown University Hospital from complications associated with liver cancer. He was 57.
Smith’s partner, Doug Bogaev, said Smith and then partner Dick Brandrupt bought Remington’s in July 1985 when it was called Equus. The two renamed the bar Remington’s and continued operating it as a popular gay country-Western bar that featured dancing.
Smith later enlarged the bar by expanding it into an adjacent building on the 600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, S.E., where it has operated since it first opened as Equus in 1980.
According to Bogaev, Smith was born in Miami, and grew up in Tyrone, Ga. Smith served five years in the U.S. Coast Guard before moving to D.C. in the early 1980s, Bogaev said.
Under Smith’s ownership, Remington’s has been credited with hosting numerous LGBT community events, including fundraisers for the city’s annual Capital Pride festival and parade.
Smith was praised by LGBT activists in 1997 for his handling of an incident in which five Marines stationed at the U.S. Marine Barracks located a few blocks away at 8th and I Streets, S.E., tossed a tear gas grenade into Remington’s, causing minor injuries to several customers and triggering an uproar in the gay community.
The incident, which was considered an anti-gay attack, drew national media attention and statements of condemnation by D.C. government officials. LGBT activists staged a protest demonstration outside the Marine Barracks to demand strict disciplinary action against the perpetrators of the attack.
Smith, who called on the Marine commandant to take steps to prevent future harassment against the bar by Marines, told the Blade that a barracks commander apologized and promised to take swift disciplinary action against any Marine creating problems for the bar.
While saying he was sympathetic to the activists’ protest against the barracks, Smith also told the Blade he supported the Marines and didn’t want to see the Marines’ reputation tarnished because of a “few bad apples.”
Bogaev said he will continue to operate Remington’s along with the bar’s staff.
“I feel he was an absolutely wonderful person,” said Bogaev. “He would always put a smile on your face.”
In addition to Bogaev, Smith is survived by two brothers, Bobby and James, and a sister, Sharon.
A celebration of his life is scheduled to take place at Remington’s on May 7 from 5 to 8 p.m.
Contributions in lieu of flowers can be made to the American Cancer Society and Whitman-Walker Health, the new name for D.C.’s Whitman-Walker Clinic.