Robert Lee Smith
Robert Lee Smith died peacefully at home on June 29, 2020 at the age of 95. He was the loving and beloved husband of Sybil (Conn) Smith, father of Kathryn Denner (Charles Brooks) and Brian Smith (Pamela Merrell), and brother of Carolyn Jacob.
Bob grew up in St. Louis County during the Great Depression and graduated from Wellston High School in 1942, during World War II. He enlisted in the Army and, after the Army’s attempt to train him as an engineer failed (according to him,) he served in Europe in the 42nd Infantry Division. He was present at the liberation of the concentration camp at Dachau. He was in transit to the Pacific Theater for the invasion of Japan when atomic bombs ended the war.
After he was discharged from the Army, Bob attended the University of Missouri and then its Law School under the G.I. Bill. He graduated first in his law school class in 1950, having been initiated into the Order of the Coif scholastic honorary fraternity and serving as Editor-in-Chief of the Missouri Law Review. He began a general law practice in St. Louis. He soon discovered that he enjoyed and had an aptitude for trying lawsuits. Gradually more and more of his practice evolved into representing injury victims. In 1962 he moved to Jefferson County and became a partner in the law firm of Thurman, Nixon, Smith and Howald (now The Thurman Law Firm) in Hillsboro. For the next 27 years, until his retirement in 1989, he devoted his practice to handling and trying claims on behalf of plaintiffs in negligence, malpractice and product liability cases. He served terms as President of the Jefferson County Bar Association and as Chairman of the county’s Bar Committee.
On August 3, 1956 he met his future wife Sybil. She was from Atlanta and they met when they were both vacationing in Daytona Beach, Florida. Bob never failed to commemorate the anniversary of that day. They wed in 1957 and had been married for 63 years at the time of his death. They truly adored each other and were best friends as well as husband and wife.
Bob and Sybil moved to St. Louis County after he retired. During over 30 years of retirement he was able to fully indulge his love of reading, especially histories and biographies, traveling in Europe, and vacationing on Sanibel Island, Florida. Bob was an avid recreational tennis player (playing regularly through age 89,) and played in numerous local and national amateur senior tournaments. He was a fan and supporter of University of Missouri sports, holding season tickets to home football games for nearly 60 years. (He thought Mizzou’s move to the SEC was unfortunate.) Bob maintained a wonderful relationship with both his children, who especially loved discussing books, history and politics with him. Recently he and Sybil moved to Friendship Village Retirement Community in Sunset Hills, where they found many new friends. Bob died grateful for having lived a long, fulfilling and happy life.
A memorial gathering will be held when public health restrictions allow.