James Edward Smith, 83, passed away suddenly on May 24, 2019. "Papa" transitioned from this earthly existence peacefully and without pain surrounded and held by the children and grandchildren whom he loved so dearly and who so adored him. He will be deeply missed and happily remembered for his love of family and sense of life's joy. For his exuberant Papa Safari's, for learning to ski alongside his 6 and 9-year-old grandsons and continuing to ski at Winter Park with the entire family for years following, for the dark of morning frigid duck and goose hunts, for the timeless fishing trips with all of his grandchildren, and for his insistence on teaching his clan the finer points of competitive chess, '42', and ping-pong. The gaming competitions could last for a very long time in order to declare the correct winner, and he never lost a foot race.
He was a recent happy resident of Silverado Vintage Preserve Memory Care (Houston), where for the last 9 months he sang, danced, ping-ponged, played chess and lived life in his large and joyful way while also enriching the lives of his fellow residents. The family would like to thank the wonderful staff at Silverado for their care, attention and life enhancing quality given to "Papa" in the last months of his life. They would also like to thank the St. Ignatius Loyola Catholic ladies who provided weekly bible study to which he looked so forward, and to Prince of Peace community which welcomed him warmly in his last months.
Thanks also to his friends and colleagues - Cary Dukes, Mike Donovan, and John Trosclair who made the effort to come and visit James in Houston over the last weeks and months.
James Edward Smith was born on August 11, 1935 in Phoenix, Arizona to a former working cowboy and doughboy cook for Black Jack Pershing - Tracy Smith, and a master domino player and master southern cook - Willie Irene Neal Smith. Moving to Texas, he graduated from Abilene High School as a proud and accomplished 175-pound offensive tackle. He married his high school sweetheart and the love of his life, Jacqueline Morris (deceased), with whom he will be happily and peacefully laid to rest.
He made his way to Texas A&M where, as a married student and father, he graduated with a BS Degree in Petroleum Engineering in 1958, having paid and supported his way through school by working as a checker at the Safeway Store in Bryan, TX. He was also an honorably discharged member of the Army National Guard. After graduation he went to work for the Texas Railroad Commission, where he served as a Field Engineer in Abilene and Corpus Christi, and then as the youngest TRC District Director in Kilgore. He then served in Austin as Assistant Director of Field Operations in the Oil & Gas Division. As a recognized technical expert in the field of Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) compliance, James authored 15 technical publications and was principal author of Rule 36 - Hydrogen Sulfide Safety for the citizens of the State of Texas.
He left the TRC in 1975 to join a Tyler, Texas firm, Petro-Management, Inc. He later founded and became president of James E. Smith and Associates in Tyler, Texas. He ran a thriving and successful business until his late 70's, and was recognized as an accomplished and well-respected Professional Petroleum Engineer and litigation subject matter expert. He was a Senior Member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers
In spite of his extremely busy professional life, he never missed his children's activities as they moved from childhood into high school and on to college. He served much time as a proud and happy Scoutmaster and Coach.
James is survived by his two sisters, Margaret Mann and Betty Kellum; by his daughter Paula (John), and by his son James David (Pangsri) and all the members of his mutual admiration society - his many loving grandchildren - John Peter (JP), Patrick, Sarah, Nitaya, Jessica, Ryan, Anthony and Justeen (Matthew).
And so we remember, fondly and sadly. For we knew you would one day leave us, but we wish it had not been now. Not yet. Not now. You will be missed. Greatly. Cannot thank you enough for all you did, for the time and treasure you spent loving and showing love to your grandchildren. For showing them the many miracles of a happy life and an adventurous soul. For teaching them things that have made them better and more well-rounded people. Papa Safaris' on untrammeled goat trails, skiing, fly fishing, hunting, bass fishing, whitewater rafting, travels and trips extraordinary. And you were the magic carpet upon which they flew, the wizard that made the magic of love and wide wonder happen for them all. Cannot begin to thank you enough.
We know that you must go. That it is time for you to depart. We do not rail bitterly or call out against your departure, only wish that you didn't have to.
Travel safely and well James Smith. There are those waiting with great joy to see you.
Services were held graveside with family in attendance at Memorial Oaks in Houston on Saturday June 1. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Archdiocese of Houston-Galveston Catholic Charities https://catholiccharities.org/
or in memory of James "Papa" Edward Smith to the Lewy Body Dementia Association, Inc., 912 Killian Hill Road, S.W., Lilburn, GA 30047 or online at https://www.lbda.org/