W. Cleveland Smith Jr.

April 3, 1941September 4, 2011

Warner Cleveland Smith, Jr., 70 died peacefully holding hands with his wife, Sherry Shaw Smith in the early morning hours of September 4, 2011. Although fading into the grip of dementia the last three years, he lived a full & happy life.

Cleveland ran amusement parks for a living and was instrumental in the development of Six Flags over Texas. Cleve started with Six Flags Over Texas the first day it opened in 1961 as a ride operator, then ride supervisor.

In 1964 he became the New York World’s Fair General Manager for Rides. During 1966 to 1969 Cleveland was the General Manager and then promoted to Operations Manager for Six Flags Over Georgia.

In 1969 Cleveland was promoted to Executive Vice President and member of the Board of Directors of Six Flags Inc. In 1971 W. Cleveland Smith & Associates was formed which later became Fun Corporation of America. Cleveland also was the Vice President and member of the Board of Directors with Wynne Enterprises, Inc., owned by Angus G. Wynne Jr., the founder of Six Flags, from 1972 to 1982. Over the decades, one of his best friends and mentors was Luther D. Clark.

Cleveland also held management roles at Lion Country Safari and Old Chicago.

In 1982 Cleveland became the General Manager for the Entertainment Area at the World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tenn. From 1984 to 1989, he was the President of the State Fair of Texas Midway games, novelties and concessions.

As Vice President of Overseas Development for Wet ‘n Wild, Cleveland worked closely with George Millay, the founder of Sea World and Wet’n Wild.

He traveled extensively for work and pleasure, visiting Brazil, Japan, Alaska, Peru, Ecuador & Australia.

In his earlier years, Cleve worked on oil rigs, and as an assistant purchasing agent for Neiman-Marcus wherein he was bonded to drive to homes to deliver clothes, jewelry, shoes for the buyer’s discretion.

Cleve was born in Jacksboro in 1941 because his father, Warner Cleveland Smith insisted on seeing the birth and no hospital in Dallas at that time would allow that. His mother Emma Jean (Powell) Smith was agreeable to that game plan. Growing up in Dallas, Cleveland finished high school in Dallas and studied business administration at the University of Texas Arlington.

He is survived by his wife, Sherry Shaw Smith of Plano, Texas; daughter, Amber Suriani of Manlius, NY; son, Trey Smith of Charlotte, NC; seven grandchildren, two of whom have Cleveland as their middle name in his honor; sister, Beverly Hendrickson of Terrell; and several nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins. Also family to Cleveland were his canine children, Cuervo who died last year, and Tag.

A Celebration of Life Memorial Service honoring Cleveland will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 17 at Ted Dickey West Funeral Home. On Sept. 18 we will honor Cleveland’s caregivers at Silverado Senior Living of Plano.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Warner Cleveland Smith, Jr. Memorial Bench Fund, through Legacy Texas Bank Plano, 1573 Alma Dr. Plano, Texas 75075. Memorial benches are being created to place near the carousels in the amusement parks that were dear to Cleveland and those innovators of the amusement industry with whom he worked.

View a video scrapbook at


  • Memorial Service Saturday, September 17, 2011

W. Cleveland Smith Jr.

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September 27, 2011

I have fond memories of Cleveland from grade school. We were in the same class for several years at the Wheatland grade school. I recall a reunion where Cleveland was kind enough to bring 8mm movies for us to look at from our school days. He was quite a guy I know we all will miss him.
Howard Case, Germantown Tennessee

Laurie Rizan

September 24, 2011


I am so very sorry for the loss of your husband. He must have been quite the wonderful man to love such an energetic and fun lady as you. I LOVED looking at all the pictures of yours and Cleveland's family on the video you posted.

You've had your share of loss lately and I pray God gives you peace for the future until you meet him, your sweet Mama, and Cleveland in heaven!

Mary Weyant

September 12, 2011

May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow. Keep those wonderful memories alive. My prayers are with you. God Bless

DeAnn Bowman

September 12, 2011

Dear Sherry, Amber, and Trey,
Thirty years ago I couldn't imagine who would deserve my friend's heart. Then I met Cleveland...he was truly a prince among men. I pray you all will feel the "peace of God that passes all understanding".

DeAnn Bowman

Merle and Cindy Hendrickson

September 11, 2011

"Our hearts cry out to you Sherry, Amber, Trey, and Mom (Beverly), for the loss a great man and even greater uncle. He is already missed. God bless all his family and friends.

LaVerne & Jozef Vercauteren

September 10, 2011

Sherry, Amber and Trey:
You and the world have lost a truly UNFORGETTABLE man. We had the pleasure of working with Cleveland and becoming a friend. A light has gone out in the heart of everyone that had the honor of knowing him with the passing of this exceptional man.
His family was his life and love. We send our deepest sympathy to all of you.

Judy Deal

September 10, 2011

May the love of friends and family carry you through your grief.

Donald Grutzmacher

September 9, 2011

Sherry, Trey and Amber.
I have very fond memories of being around Cleveland when Trey was in the scout group with my son Kurt, the campouts we did. Then later on Earl Hagn and I worked with him at the State Fair. Often he comes into my mind. Earl has passed on but Sandie and I still live in Dallas at the same place. Would love to get in touch with Trey and you one day.

Just knowing you guys has enriched my life. Thank you and God Bless

Gary & Linda Osborn

September 8, 2011

With our deepest sympathy

Dorothy Harris

September 8, 2011

September 8, 2011, Sherry and family, my deepest Sympathy goes out to u all, we all loved Cleveland. and will miss him dearly,. GOD be with you and keep u strong, your aunt Dorothy Harris, Altus OK