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William C. ‘Bill’ Smith, Jr.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023
William C. ‘Bill’ Smith, Jr.

William C. “ Bill” Smith, Jr., passed away on Saturday December 16, 2023 at the age of 87. He was born on January 21, 1936 in Texarkana, Texas.

Bill graduated from Ruston High and attended LSU, studying Business Administration. He was a Chartered Life Underwriter and recently retired from Lincoln Financial Group.

In 1954, Bill left Ruston to attend LSU on a football scholarship. He played end and kicker, kicking off in Coach Paul Dietzel’s first game. He once punted for a record of 81 yards in college. He went on to play professional football for the Vancouver Lions in Canada.

Bill was preceded in death by his parents, William C. and Eunice Keller Smith; sister, Vickie Shaw; and brother, John Smith.

Bill was President of the Life Underwriters Association, Member of the LSU L Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association, and Parkview Baptist Church, where he taught Sunday School.

Bill loved the life insurance business and embraced his work like a ministry for families. He had a big heart for helping others and a special devotion to his family. If he saw someone in need, he stopped to help. He organized the Cowboys for Christ ministry at Angola State Penitentiary and delighted in making a difference in the lives of the inmates.

Bill loved to captivate people with all of his varied stories from the football field, to “ his train wrecks” on horseback, to his long hours in the saddle working cattle with friends. In his heart, Bill was an old- fashioned cowboy and dressed the part. With his leather making skills he created western chaps, saddles, saddlebags, and anything related to his cattle work. He loved outdoor cooking with cast iron pots, making chili for large groups and always willing to volunteer.

Bill also loved dressing to the “ nines” in gentlemanly tradition. He constantly wrote letters to friends with perfect penmanship and calligraphy style. Two of his favorite sayings were “What a Difference a Day Makes” and “The Best is Yet to Come.” In his desire to continue helping others he donated his body for education and research to the LSU Medical Center.

Bill is survived by his wife of 47 years Joy Lamendola Smith; daughter, Stacy Bennett (Lonnie), daughter Lesley Smith; sister, Sari Smith Wilson; grandchildren, Brogan Bennett, Mary- Catherine Loupe ( Jason); and greatgrandchild, Grayson Loupe; step- children, Congressman Jeffrey Fortenberry ( Celeste) and Lisa Fortenberry Daly; step- grandchildren, Claire Zunk (Skyler), Elizabeth Braman ( Sr. Airman Matthew), Kathryn Fortenberry, Christine Fortenberry, Caroline Fortenberry; and great- grandchild, Joy Braman; former wife, Catherine Crawford Ginn; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

Memorials may be sent to St. Jude Research Hospital, Wounded Warrior Project, or Parkview Baptist Church.

A memorial service will be held on January 8, 2024, at Parkview Baptist in Church Baton Rouge, with 10:30 a.m. visitation, and an 11 a.m. service to be followed by a reception.