SMITH, WILLIAM LANDRUM, JR. (1911~1972) William Smith was born October 31, 1911, in DeRidder, Louisiana. His father, William Landrum Smith, Sr., was a jeweler and watch repairman and his mother was a former schoolteacher.
The family moved to Sour Lake, Texas in 1914 and he attended school there until 1922 when the family moved to Beaumont, Texas. He attended Fletcher Elementary School, and Crockett Junior High, and graduated from Beaumont High School in 1929.
After high school, Smith attended South Park Junior College, now known as Lamar State University, and Texas A&M University. After college, he went to work in his father's jewelry store and later opened his own in Beaumont. At one time he was a Director of the Texas Jewelry Association.
He was very active in Boy Scouts and won many awards as a scout and also as a scout Leader. He received the Scouters Key Award and the Silver Beaver Award, which are the highest honors in scouting.
In 1938 he became chairman of the Jefferson County Young Democrats and served until 1942. He resigned to run for State Representative of the 16th District, He was elected and served in the legislature until his death in 1972 except for two terms when he devoted his time to his jewelry business. While in the Legislature he served on and was chairman of many committees.
He is best remembered for his devotion to Mental Health and help for the physically handicapped. In 1945 he authored a bill benefiting thousands of physically and mentally handicapped children of Texas. He was known as the "Father of Special Education" in Texas. He was honored with an appreciation dinner on March 2, 1972, which was attended by 1000 people from all over Texas. It was a well-deserved honor.
On March 17, 1972 he died suddenly at the age of 60. A memorial service at the First Baptist Church was held on Sunday March 19th in Beaumont, Texas. He was buried in the State Cemetery on Tuesday March 21st.
The Beaumont State Center for Human Development was originated through his efforts. The main building at the Center is named the Will L. Smith Building. Many hundreds of mentally handicapped individuals benefit from many services offered at the Center.
Information taken from Texas State Cemetery file materials.