MARBLE FALLS, Texas — Walter L. Smith, 90, died on Nov. 23, 2017, at the Arbor House care facility in Marble Falls, Texas.
He was born on Sept. 12, 1927, in Larned, to Wesley and Merle Smith. He graduated high school there and entered Emporia State Teachers College, where he played on the varsity basketball team. After graduating in 1950, he took a teaching position in Augusta, where he taught and coached in both the high school and junior high. He also served as president of the City Teachers Association in Augusta.
After attaining a master’s degree in school administration at Wichita State University, he became the superintendent of schools in Geneseo. In 1959, when he was 31, he was selected as superintendent of schools in Hoisington (USD 431) out of almost 20 applicants. He worked there until he retired from education in 1979.
During that time, he was a local president of the Kansas National Education Association chapter and served as a delegate to the National Education Association. He was also a member of the Kansas State Chamber of Commerce Educational Council and regional vice president of the Kansas National Education Association. He was a member of the Hoisington Lions Club, Masonic Lodge, Christian Church, American Legion, Barton County Medical Society of Scholarship Committee and the Chamber of Commerce.
A longtime teacher, Robert Benignus, wrote these words in a letter to the editor upon Mr. Smith’s retirement:
“It is by virtue of your leadership and the academic freedom which you have provided that educational innovation in our district has been the rule rather than the exception. You encouraged the development of reading programs, inter-school visitations, summer writing programs, the carpentry program, visits to college students by teachers, advisory councils and one of the finest counseling programs anywhere, to name just a few.”
Mr. Smith lived most of his retirement years in Tucson, Ariz., with his second wife, Joan Bailly Smith (formerly of Great Bend). She died in 1996.
He is survived by his three children, David (wife C’arren) of Leawood; Sondra (husband Chet) of Marble Falls, Texas, and Lynda (husband Tom) of San Francisco, Calif.; five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, and his brother, Wendell Smith (wife Janise).
Great Bend (Kan.) Tribune, Nov. 28, 2017**