November 5, 2003 by

Preston Smith


Categories: Politicians

Preston E. Smith, the former governor of Texas, died on Oct. 15 from pneumonia. He was 91.
One of 13 children, Smith was only eight years old when he decided to become the state’s governor. After working his way through college at Texas Tech, Smith became an entrepreneur. He ran a gasoline service station in Lubbock, then opened a chain of six movie theaters.
A conservative Democrat known for his polka-dot bow ties, Smith was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1944, the Texas Senate in 1956 and the lieutenant governor’s office in 1962. Six years later, he was elected governor after running an old-fashioned campaign of personal contact and direct mail.
During his two terms in office, Smith passed the state’s first minimum wage law and helped launch the first comprehensive drug abuse program in Texas. His second term, however, was marred by a scandal that destroyed the careers of his lieutenant governor and the House speaker.
After he left the political arena, Smith chaired the Coordinating Board for Texas Colleges and Universities. He also helped raise $500 million for his alma mater.
Smith received numerous awards, including the John Ben Shepperd Outstanding Texas Leader Award, the George Mahon Honor Role of Public Service and the Masonic 50-Year Membership Award.

2 Responses to Preston Smith

  1. Baron Smith

    As a possible relative of Preston, I’m attempting to make contact with any family survivors.
    Thank you, Baron Smith, Professor, Arizona

  2. Derck Koehn

    Reply to Baron Smith:
    I worked for Gov. Smith while I was in college at Texas Tech a few years ago. He continued to work there in public relations until his death. I can provide you with the names of family members (as many as I can find) if you are interested.
    D Koehn

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