Hugh Love Smith Sr.
Hugh Love Smith Sr. of Corpus Christi and more recently, Boerne, Texas, died peacefully in the presence of his loving family June 14, 2017. He was 98.
He was born at home in Geneva, Texas, in Sabine County, Jan. 18, 1919, to Prince Anna Dorsey Smith and Eugene Burton Smith. He was one of 10 children. His father was a farmer and later the Sheriff of Sabine County.
He attended public schools in Sabine County, where he lettered for three years at Hemphill High School as an outstanding guard in basketball.
On March 12, 1938, at age 19, he eloped with his beautiful, 16-year-old high school sweetheart, Era Mae Robbins. He bought her wedding ring, a gold band embossed with orange blossoms, at the drug store in Hemphill. The couple moved in 1938 to Corpus Christi, where they raised “two children and each other” during the 76 years of their marriage.
His first job in Corpus Christi was driving a delivery truck for Samsco Supply Company, and less than a year later he landed a job with Southwestern Oil & Refining Co. (later to become Kerr-McGee).
His career at Southwestern began as an unskilled laborer, and he progressed to pumper, operator, lab manager, and finally to the position of manager of marketing.
During World War II, he served his country by remaining at his oil-refining job of producing fuel for military aircraft. He retired in 1983, after working for 44 years with the same company. He loved his job with Southwestern and took great pride in his work and the relationships he built there.
He was baptized in a creek near San Augustine at age 11 at a summer revival. After moving to Corpus Christi, he joined First Baptist Church downtown, where he participated in the Young Men’s Bible Class, served as president of the Rufus Bryant Sunday School class and worked with children at Boy’s City and South Texas Children’s Home. One of his most meaningful experiences was serving as an enthusiastic volunteer with Gerald Smith’s Boy Scout Troop 11, for whom he presented the troop’s first Eagle Award.
In later years at First Baptist on Ocean Drive, he enjoyed attending Vernon Elmore’s Pastor’s Class, served on the Property and Maintenance committee and spent 10 years doing “porch ministry” with Johnny Thomason.
He was an avid member of the Corpus Christi Camera Club, and built houses under the name “Hugh Smith Builder” for 15 years under the mentorship of his dear friend, Frank Peerman.
One of the most fun, albeit frustrating, periods of his life was his “golf era,” which began in the 1960s with a foursome which played together for more than 30 years, including John Wright, Carlos Hayley, Larry Lay and later Henry Gillespie. This evenly-matched group loved being together and insisted that it was never too hot, cold or windy to hit the links three times a week.
While Hugh threatened to “quit that foolish game” at least 1,000 times, he reluctantly hung up his golf bag in 2006 due to health problems. A member of the Corpus Christi Country Club for 40 years, he served for two years as head of the Grounds Committee, and on the Board of Directors for three years.
He is preceded in death by his parents; nine of his siblings; and in August 2014, his loving and faithful wife, Era Mae Smith.
He is survived by a son, Hugh Love “Clipper” Smith Jr. and wife Nona of Vicksburg; daughter, Sylvia Ann Smith Griffin and husband Paul, of Boerne; six grandchildren, Stephen Smith and wife Sherri of San Antonio, Jim “Kelly” Smith and wife Kelly of Vicksburg, Abney Smith Clardy and husband Trey of Mendenhall, Robin Smith of Vicksburg, Chris Griffin and wife Ashleigh of Austin and Cindy Griffin Carr and husband Brian of Boerne; 12 great-grandchildren; one great-great grandchild; and numerous cousins, nieces, nephews and friends.
He was delighted, a mere 10 days prior to his death, to attend a family gathering to celebrate the birth of his great-great granddaughter with five generations together at one time. On that day, He was able to affirm and bless his numerous family members and enjoy their loving company.
While Hugh’s long life reflects many accomplishments, his proudest achievement by far was that of being a father to Clipper and Sylvia. He was a real “Daddy” who was at home with his family every night and weekend. He took his kids to church, knew their teachers and their friends and showed them by example what a life of integrity looked like.
He was his most complete when he was with his best friend, soul mate and counselor, his wife Era Mae. He loved to bring her coffee in the mornings, and in the afternoons with a little bowl of ice cream. If she was mad at him, she would get her own coffee — and that was the worst possible punishment she could give him! They used to love dancing, and they would have small tea dances with their friends in the living room and the kids would peek at them thinking they looked just like Fred and Ginger. They took wonderful, winsome photographs together and developed them in their own darkroom. They held hands. They could read each other’s minds. They loved each other deeply.
The final years of Hugh and Era Mae’s lives were spent living in Boerne at the Morningside Ministry at Menger Springs retirement living facility. They attended First Baptist Church in Boerne as long as they were able, and when they could no longer attend, they were visited faithfully by Pastor Mike Harkrider. The family is so grateful for the caring attention of many, including Shawna Barron, Bryce Boddie, Ulysses Flores, and Amy Castro of Alamo Hospice, Yessika Rodriguez of Nurse Next Door, Sandra, Sylvia, Monty and numerous others of the Cibolo House at Menger Springs.
A family memorial celebration will be held in Boerne in late June with a graveside service held in Geneva at a yet to be determined date.
Memorial gifts to the life and legacy of Hugh Smith may be made to CASA of South Texas at 1420 2nd St., Pleasanton, Texas 78064 or Jacobs Ladder Learning Center, Inc. at 1017 Harrison St, Vicksburg, MS 39180. To leave condolences for the family and to view a video of Hugh’s life, please visit ebensberger-fisher.com and select the obituaries tab.
Arrangements are with Ebensberger-Fisher Funeral Home of Boerne.