Edward A. Smith, Jr.
March 23, 1939
October 17, 2023
Born March 23rd 1939 to Edward Arthur Smith Sr. and Ruth Wootton Smith, Edward Jr., “Big Ed” as many called him, Mr. Smith to others and even “Big Daddy” as his wife Gwendolyn of 51 years lovingly, though not at times, referred to him as, his journey began. Growing up in east Houston, there were stories of managing his Lutheran High School basketball team, saving all 27 first paychecks from his early job at Fox Photo for some grand expenditure, as well as both Edward Sr. and Jr. building their first house together on the Lawson Street property the family lived on, only a petite garage apartment in the back with mom and sister prior.
Upon graduation from Lutheran in 1957, Edward made it into the Corps at Texas A&M. While his children are completely aware of the self-made man he later became, on top of the stories of walking both ways to school in either the driving snow of Houston’s east side or its oppressive heat, it should be noted that the first of subsequent drives to College Station was in a 50’s era, white exterior, red interior XK 120 Jaguar convertible. A car in which Mr. Smith outran a couple state troopers one night on the way only to end up taking each for a ride before they would release him. While A&M didn’t fit his path, he was the first and only corpsman allowed ever, with random checks happening, to keep his quail hunting Parker shotgun under his bunk.
Back in Houston his career began upon meeting his eventually business partner, and their first apartment was acquired in downtown Houston in the early 60’s. During this time of securing and operating multiple quaint apartment complexes as well as speculative commercial property holdings, he became onsite lead mechanic, a/c repairman and appliance installer. That said, child labor laws were not enforced back then and 6-year-old hands fit perfect inside hot water heaters to remove lime deposits and resurrect them, in summer. It was at this first complex he would meet Gwendolyn and marry in 1966, go on to have his three children Edward III, Charlotte, and Douglas while still each morning leaving in the dark and coming back in it to allow Gwendolyn to be a stay-at-home mom.
In 1980 after selling one of those original speculative properties, the last piece of land to enable Beltway 8 to connect, he moved the family out of the city and here to Brenham. After the first few years, traveling back and forth while the family began to connect and thrive in town, he received a call from a friend, mentor, and banker, talked of failing Farmers State Bank in nearby Chappell Hill and his bank president, CEO years began, December 1984. Early on in this newfound career path, the home phone rang late one evening, the silent alarm for the bank was triggered. Outrunning law enforcement to the bank, the new president, well-armed, confronted bank robbers on the roof who had just exited through the ceiling. His reputation was now set, later in the same vein Chappell Hill Bank becoming the only bank to allow Conceal Carry, a position which made the Wall Street Journal.
Like Gwendolyn, he was a consummate reader of not only finance but many levels of history, Texas being most notable, commissioning the largest Texas flag ever weaved to be constructed, one still in possession, a flag large enough to drape the Citadel. The other, as he phrased it, was The War of Northern Aggression, a subject his knowledge and passion of historical events will be missed. His associations are numerous and diverse, many benefitting from both Chappell Hill Bank as well as Edward Smith Jr. And the stories, well, of equal weight and interest, “I am the bank” was heard through walls in arguments. Gold silver dollars given to other’s children at random. American flags handed out upon asking and a conversation on many a subject whenever you had time.
He was an interesting, passionate man, acquired taste perhaps, hard shell, challenging, provoking, but loyal to a fault. A devoted father, husband, devout friend, mentor to many, quiet philanthropist and keeper of history, our history, local and Texas history. His absence is tangible.
He is survived by son, wife and grandson Edward III, Jennifer and Finnegan Smith IV; daughter and husband Charlotte and Mike Matsumura; his terrier Nugget as well as an assorted large pack of grand dogs and cats.
Visitation will be held Friday, October 27th with family present from 5pm to 7pm at Brenham Memorial Chapel. Services will be held Saturday, October 28th at 11am at Brenham Memorial with burial to follow at Masonic Cemetery in Chappell Hill, Texas.
In lieu of flowers the family requests charitable donations be made to Washington County EMS, a project near and dear to him and one our community needs.