Teddy Dean Smith

June 12, 1932January 5, 2019

Teddy Dean Smith, 86 years old, passed on to Heaven on Saturday, January 8, 2019. He was a resident of Fresno most of his life.

He was born in 1932 to Wayne and Helen Smith. His parents, along with his brother Walter Smith, have preceded him in death. He grew up on the edge of town and had many happy adventurous days in the outdoors gardening, raising a variety of animals, camping, boating, fishing, and hunting. He climbed Mt. Whitney at 16, and even drove to Alaska fishing and hunting at 20. He passed on his enjoyment of all these hobbies to his extended family over the years.

At Fresno High School he lettered in basketball, set a school record in track, and graduated in 1950. While attending Fresno State, he continued running track, and was active in ROTC and Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship, where Joyce noticed him leading the singing. After graduating in 1954 with a degree in General Business, he moved to Texas to serve in the US Air Force as a pilot, flying the KC-97 for Strategic Air Command during the Korean conflict. He learned to make decisions, but acrobatics and precision formation flying were his favorite part. In 1956 he married Joyce Braun in Sanger, and she joined him there in El Paso, Texas. After active duty, they returned to Fresno and he continued with the Air National Guard flying single engine fighter jets (F-86).

Ted grew up in business, from selling family eggs as a child to working in his father's truck repair garage. After leaving the Air Force, Ted started his own business selling and installing truck safety brakes. This would eventually become TSE Brakes, and the largest of his many business ventures. He manufactured and sold air brake actuators primarily to truck, trailer and axle manufacturers globally. Ted loved to sell his product and he traveled the world growing the business and building a global supply chain. He kept up his pilot's license and enjoyed flying the company plane.

Ted's goal was always to surpass the competition with excellence and honor. He believed that doing the right thing with customers, suppliers and employees would result in a solid bottom line over time. With a true entrepreneurial spirit, at one point, Ted had five businesses on his business card: Ted Smith Equipment Co., Fresno Mack Truck Sales, Fresno National Lease, California Finance and Lease, and TSE Brakes. Other businesses he started included Truck Parts Warehouse, a Great Dane trailer dealership, and a property management business. He believed God had called him to business and saw that as his mission field.

Through his God given leadership skills, he was part of three church plants and served on many boards including the Fresno Evangelical Free Church, Clovis Evangelical Free Church, and Hume Lake Christian Camps. He loved the Lord as his Savior, and stood firm on the foundation that the Bible is God's word. He and Joyce led numerous Bible studies over the years amongst family, friends, and neighbors.

He was known for his sense of humor and enthusiasm, faith in God, generosity, and love for people. Ted asked God for a full life, and God blessed him with one. Some life lessons he taught: challenges are opportunities, integrity counts, work hard as unto God. Colossians 3:23, 24 were his life verses.

He often told us that although he relished the challenges of business, he received his greater joy through his family. Married over 62 years, Joyce was the love of his life. Their love for each other was a great example for us. She joined him on business trips, and they hosted many events together in their home. He enjoyed "spending the kids' inheritance" on family trips, building memories with us.

Although preceded in death by his second daughter Lori Lum in 2017, he leaves a large family behind. He is survived by wife Joyce Smith, daughter Gaylene (Brian DeMars) daughter Shelly Smith, son-in-law Steve Lum, and son Greg (Amanda) Smith. He also left behind nephews, nieces, and a large number of grandchildren and great grandchildren who already miss Papa.

His Celebration of Life service is planned for Saturday, January 19, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. at Trinity Community Church at 12168 N. Willow Ave, Clovis, 93619.

Memorial gifts may be given to Hume Lake Christian Camp, 5545 E Hedges, Fresno, CA 93727.


  • Hume Lake Christian Camp


  • Graveside Service Friday, January 18, 2019
  • Memorial Service Saturday, January 19, 2019

Teddy Dean Smith

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