Bossier City, LA – Will Smith, 92, of Bossier City, Louisiana, died at his residence shortly before noon on April 3, 2019.
Will was born on April 28, 1926 at his childhood home in Waskom, Texas to the late Will McGee Smith (b. 1886) and Bertie Mae Flowers (b. 1905). His father died in a tragic accident when Will was only two years old and his young mother remarried. His stepfather, the late Albert Bonds of Greenwood, LA, raised Will lovingly as his own. Will was also preceded in death by his brothers, Joe Henry Smith, Reid and Dorsey Bonds. In 2016, Will was finally reunited with his birth family of Arkansas through the help of an Ancestry DNA test—meeting a first cousin he had never known, and learning at last about his birthfather’s family.
Will grew up on a modest dairy farm off Hwy 80 west of Greenwood, LA while the country was in the grip of the Great Depression. Some earliest childhood memories were of loading the family’s Model A truck to bring milk to the farmer’s market in town. When Governor Huey Long was killed, he remembered riding in the back of that same truck with the family from Greenwood all the way to Baton Rouge. They waited in line with the ordinary people of the state for just a few seconds at the fallen governor’s casket to pay respects to the people’s governor. Will could remember nights on the sleeping porch when strangers and hobos would sleep in the cots and iron frame beds next to him at the farm. In the morning, they would all rise and work at the dairy together. Everyone worked for food then.
Will was an ardent baseball player and had a widely-respected knuckleball. He liked to joke that his dreams of pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals were dashed when he threw out his arm one day at the family farm after hurling a coke bottle! His intended target was a mean rooster that was always pecking at the children (he said he missed too). Will was an accomplished golfer winning several golf championships in the Shreveport area.
When he was a teenager he joined the United States Navy to help President Roosevelt fight World War II. Though he could not swim, he told everyone he did not want to sleep in holes and eat out of tin cans for the next two years. He served on the USS Hollandia, a battle-decorated “jeep” aircraft carrier in the Pacific Theater. After the war, Will returned home to help with the family dairy.
In 1949, he married his one love, Lela Agnes Coleman of Yazoo City, MS, at First Methodist Church of Shreveport. Will and Lela had one child, William Reid Smith. Will’s subsequent occupations included commercial timber, owning a restaurant, owning a gas station, and working in men’s department stores (Jordan & Booth and Dillard’s). He also managed the Disabled American Veterans stores of Dallas, TX in his later years. Will saved his money, invested wisely, and enjoyed a lengthy and adventurous retirement.
Will is survived by Lela, his devoted wife of 70 years, his son, Bill Smith and daughter-in-law, Jan Huckaby Smith of Bossier City, LA; grandson, Gerald Ross Teutsch and wife, Susan Pickell Teutsch of Bossier City; grandson, William Ryan Smith and wife, Leslie Ross Smith of Shreveport; greatgrandchildren, Leah Nicole Teutsch, William Coleman Smith, Jack Huckaby Smith, and Colin Reid Smith. Two sisters, Doris Brumble and husband, Ted, of Tyler, TX, and Linda Whittington of Greenwood, LA also survive Will.
Visitation and memorial services will be held at the Osborn Funeral Home on Southern Avenue in Shreveport at 1:00pm, on Monday, April 8. His graveside memorial will be held at the Greenwood Town Cemetery immediately following.
His was a life well lived. Will was an honest man, devoted husband, father, and grandfather. Will was a proud American. He carried with him a lifelong passion for his grandchildren, classic (fast!) cars, baseball, golf, the Kansas City Southern Railroad, and American History.
His family gives thanks to God for the many years we had him with us. Requiescat in pace.