Robert Shearn Smith

Portrait of Robert Shearn Smith No Headstone Photograph Available

Full Name: Robert Shearn Smith
Location: Section:Patriots' Hill, Section 1 (A)
Row:K  Number:20
Reason for Eligibility: Judge, 61st Judicial District 
Birth Date: October 8, 1927 
Died: January 17, 2023 
Burial Date: January 27, 2023 

SMITH, ROBERT SHEARN (1927 ~ 2023). The following is an obituary for Robert Shearn Smith, former judge of the 61st Judicial District. The obituary was provided by Waltrip Funeral Directors of Houston.

Judge Shearn Smith went to be with the lord on Tuesday 1-17-2023 after serving faithfully for 95 years. He was born 10-8-1927 to American National Life Ins District Manager John Barkley Smith and his much younger stunning wife, Floyce. John named him after after his friend and boss, Robert Shearn Moody, who died shortly after Shearn's birth. He grew up in the Houston Heights. His older brother by 7 years, Jack, was his hero. His father John was the only one working in the extended family during the depression, so Shearn learned with his cousins how to make and squeeze a buck.

The Smith boys from the Heights made a name for themselves. In 1938 Jack took flying lessons and then joined the Army Airforce. Shearn was ROTC and graduated at 16. His father signed the waiver for him to join the Navy. At basic, the instructor admired his ROTC training and handed him a instructor's book on Radar, telling him to memorize it. He did and spent his entire service at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, as the Radar Instructor. After victory in September 1945, the armed forces released Shearn early to follow his brother Jack to UH law school.

Almost everyone at UH law were GI's out to make the world a better place. Jack was in the first graduating class and Shearn was in the 2nd. Dean White drilled into Shearn and Jack that the richest lawyers were not the smartest, but the ones who wisely invested. Shearn made it his creed that he would invest a fourth of his gross earnings into land. He borrowed from everyone and bought farms from 1950 to 1968 when he became Judge 61st District Court.

Again he followed his brother Jack into Politics, who became Probate Judge in 1964, then DR Judge, then 189th Civil District Judge, and finally Appellate Judge. The Smith boy’s motto was being in the right place and the right time.

An example is Shearn noticed the Jury system was a hardship, so he and Ray Hardy, District Clerk implemented the "One Day/One Jury" system that became todays nationwide system. He was featured in Newsweek and Time Magazine describing the system and his efforts. Another example is how he met his wife.

During a Bar Convention at the Shamrock Hilton, Shearn looked across the dance floor and saw the girl he was going to marry dancing with a friend. He cut in and that was that. In April 1954 Shearn and Annell were married at Faith Lutheran Church, where he is today. Annell smoothed the rough stone and made Shearn the success that he was. She raised four children on a wire thin budget and lovingly joined every organization leading them to social success.

The most interesting trait of Shearn was he never gave his opinion. "if it's not pending before the 61st District Court, I don't have an opinion." And if it was pending before the 61st District Court, his brother, was head of Judicial Ethics, and he wasn't ever going to do anything that would embarrass Jack. In other words, he obeyed his KYBMS slogan (Keep your big mouth shut!).

Shearn never did a lick of work outside the 61st District Court. It was all fun for him. He joined everything, got on board, and delegated out the work. He was the greatest delegator ever lived. He had that special knack of enjoying meetings and always knowing the right person to delegate the work too. At the end, his only job was to take out the trash, and he almost always found someone to do it for him. One of his friends said "Shearn would make the call and we'd all come running." Politics, Church, Boy Scouts, Masonry, Scottish Rite, Law School, UH ect.: Ma could of put a picture of him on the back door, and told us kids, if you ever see this man, it’s your father. He went to meetings every night, and loved it. Loved the attention.

His greatest feat was when he became President UH Alumni, he announced he would be singing the National Anthem and Alma Mater at all the football and basketball games. He did so from 1968 to 2015. The last game he sang was the UH-Navy game on national tv where he sang and George H. Bush did the coin toss. It was all UH that bright beautiful November 27 day.

On the bench he was known as Stern Shearn. He read everything submitted before every hearing and expected the attorneys to be prepared. Among extended family he was called Stingy Shearn, except when it came to Annell. He loved her dearly to the end and lavished her with trips that make your head spin. Every anniversary he would throw a luncheon, and at some point the pianist would play "Some Enchanted Evening," to which he would get up, turn to Annell, and sing.

He always said there was good in everyone, and his goal was to make a good person better. He left behind his wife, Annell; twin boys Ronald and Donald; grandchildren Carol, Sarah, Matthew, Hanna, and Erin; and great grandchildren Travis, Jack,, Liam, and Brooke. He was predeceased by his children Cheryl and Robert Jr; grandchild John; and great grandchild Logan.

Even in end stage Alzheimer's he was happy and his greatest pleasure was holding Annell's hand.

Funeral Services will be held Thursday 1-26-2023 at 11:00 a.m. Faith Lutheran Church 4600 Bellaire Blvd., Bellaire, Tx 77401 with reception following. Judge Smith will be interned close to his brother Jack at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin. Please make donations to Faith Church; Shearn Smith UH Band Scholarship; Shearn Smith UH Law Scholarship; and Judge Shearn Smith Masonic Library Gray Lodge. May you be a blessing.

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