Lester H. Smith

August 16, 1942March 14, 2019

As written by Lester H. Smith

I always lived by the motto, “anything worth doing is worth over doing.” Well, I think I went too far this time!

As of March 14, 2019, I am no longer around. Unless you have special connections - and I know some of you do - I can no longer be reached by email, phone, text, Snapchat (whatever that is) or any other social media platform. Maybe I can be reached by iCloud - because who really knows what that is, or where it is – and who the heck manages it? Maybe that’s what I will do now – manage the iCloud. But I digress, as is – or was – my custom.

After three rounds with cancer, dozens of operations on various body parts, some good painkillers to go with them, and a borrowed set of new lungs, I have had an offer I can’t refuse, a call that I must take and an appointment that I cannot cancel.

Trust me when I tell you that I did everything in my life that I absolutely wanted to do – and I did it two, three, 48 times, but who’s counting? (Remember my motto!) I certainly didn’t count – and yes, it got me into trouble more than once. I drank way too much whiskey, inhaled again and again, and wasn’t – to put it gently – always the best Scout in the Troop. But believe me when I tell you that I would rather regret things I did than regret not living my life to the fullest. And as you know, when it came to living, loving and laughing, my cup runneth over and over and over, largely because of the deep love, devotion, friendship, compassion and trust that I have felt in my life. I have truly had an incredible life and honestly, I go out with a bang, not with a whimper as the poet wrote.

It all started with examples set by my parents Rosalie and Maynard Smith and a small Jewish community in Wharton, Texas where I was born August 16, 1942. Along with my brothers Alec and Stephen, we were raised to work hard and to always remember those with less. I am really grateful that our parents set us all on the path of life with compassion and kindness at its core.

That sense of community spirit guided me throughout my life and I leave you all hoping that I did enough to make each of you proud to know the name “Smith”. I know that there are many clinics and buildings and such that have my name on it, but the names that truly mean the world to me are husband, father, brother and Pops.

To the love of my life, my precious wife, Sue. Did you really bring a date to my funeral as you threatened? I hope that brings a smile to your beautiful face. For nearly 30 years, you’ve been my wife, my partner, my best friend and confidante. Words cannot express how much I appreciate all you have done to make my life so full and beautiful. Your self-less devotion to me especially over the last few years made me fully realize the depth of your love and compassion. You were with me every step of the way, from our first steps on a ballroom floor to the steps you have helped me take after many illnesses and surgeries. Your love made me a better man and truly a better human being. That’s what you do, Sue. You really bring out the best in everyone. I have been the luckiest man alive to be loved by you.

To my dear children, Shelly and Stuart, along with Brian and Limor and my beautiful grandchildren; you have made me so proud to be your Dad and Pops. I hope that when the tears dry, you will remember that while I wasn’t the perfect Dad, your unfailing love, devotion and respect have meant the world to me and enriched my life beyond measure. I love you all to the moon and back and despite the distance, a little bit of me will live on in your lives. I hope it’s the good parts: the funny jokes, the snarky sense of humor and total disregard for (most) authority. Most of all, may my memory bring a smile to your faces and may you always know how much you were loved.

To my beloved brothers Alec and Stephen, along with their wives Susan and Carol, thank you for the wonderful memories of the many good times we have shared. I know this will be really hard for you, but don’t worry. When I see Daddy and Mama again, they won’t hear a peep out of me about the time Alec…but I digress again. To Cousin Judy and her husband Al; Judy claimed the position of “sister” and you know what? I loved you like one.

I was preceded in death by my generous and loving parents, Rosalie Jessel Smith and Maynard Smith. I am survived by my loving wife Sue Smith; my children Stuart Smith and his wife Limor Smith; Shelly Smith Hendry and her husband Brian, and my precious grandchildren Audrey, Harry and Samantha Smith, and Mirren, Abigail, Sarah and Andrew Hendry. Peaches and Coco, Daddy will miss you but your Mommy Sue will always be there for you. I also leave behind a beautiful extended family of cousins, nieces and nephews, along with a community of dear friends and colleagues that have truly made my life complete. A special shout out to my incredible staff and “office wives” at Smith Interests – or as we often called it – Smith Interesting. (Remember, each of you signed a non-disclosure.) Finally, to my longtime friend and business partner Russell Gordy – I love you, man.

I have been the recipient of way too many awards and accolades, and while I am grateful, you can read that elsewhere. Suffice it to say that at the end of the day – and that day has come – I only hope that in some small way, I did what I could to make this world a better place than when I laid eyes on it for the first time. Don’t send flowers, please. DO go out and do what you can to help out a friend or total stranger in need. Go out and make someone smile. Go out and “dance like no one’s watching” and make the most of each and every moment. In the end, we can all agree, life is one helluva precious ride.

I have so enjoyed that ride and I appreciate all of you who took the journey with me.

Lester H. Smith ~

The family wishes to extend their thanks to Dr. Amit Parulekar and the transplant team at Baylor College of Medicine; Dr. Mohit Khera, Dr. Jay Davis and Lester’s caregivers at home, especially Sonjia Martin and Stephanie Elzy.

A memorial service will be conducted at twelve o'clock noon on Monday, the 18th of March 2019, in the sanctuary of Congregation Beth Israel, 5600 North Braeswood Boulevard in Houston, where Senior Rabbi David A. Lyon and Senior Cantor Star M. Trompeter are to officiate. (Kindly note for those unable to attend the service in person, online live streaming of the memorial service will be provided at under the live streaming link on the homepage.)

Immediately following, all are invited to greet the family during a reception in the adjacent Wolff–Toomim Hall.

Prior to the service, the family will have gathered for a private interment at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston.

In lieu of customary remembrances, memorial contributions may be directed to Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, MS160, Houston, TX 77030; Nora's Home, 8300 El Rio Street, Houston, TX 77054; or any charitable organization supported by The Lester & Sue Smith Foundation.



  • Memorial Service

    Monday, March 18, 2019


  • Prior to the memorial service, the family will have gathered for a private interment service at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston.


Lester H. Smith

have a memory or condolence to add?

Andy Varady

August 20, 2020

Happy birthday in heaven Lester. I will never forget going to meetings with you, and a time after a meeting when I had a business question. You looked at me quizzically and said “I would never do that!“ So I didn’t either. And thank God I didn’t! Staying the course as you suggested was exactly what I needed. I feel honored to have known you.

Tony T. Torres

August 16, 2020

Happy Birthday up in Heaven Lester!!! I know You're up there looking down smiling with Your Big Smile. We miss You & Love You to eternity Lester. 🙏❤🙏

Donna Johnson

March 25, 2020

Lester was such an important figure in Houston. You are dearly missed.

John Smith

February 20, 2020

To the Smith Family,

We are so sorry for your loss.

Jane Johnson

November 21, 2019

Lester was a great man, we miss him dearly.

Susan Shepard

August 2, 2019

Omg! I'm sorry so to hear this about him . He was a Beautiful person I meet him at Methodist hospital back in 2013 it was a pleasure to serve him. I also received a book from him You gotta dance like no one's watching. I was cleaning up and I ran across this book and I said I wonder how this sweet person is doing? So I type his name and I seen he had gained his heavenly wings😭. May God Bless his wife & Kids I'm so sorry. I know he's up in heaven having a ball dancing ,singing etc.

Kent Hytken

March 22, 2019

To the Lester Smith family,

I would like to extend my sincerest heartfelt condolences for your loss of a real mensch who touched many people's lives through his friendships, business relationships, and philanthropic endeavors.

May his eternal memory be a blessing.

Rest in peace, Lester.

Sylvia Lanz

March 19, 2019


I’ve only known you for your accomplishments and TV , but I am completely moved by your words , love , & passion.
God Speed

Shirley Ballas

March 19, 2019

My Darling Lester. I have so many memories with both you and Sue and your wonderful family. I remember when Julianne Mark and Derek where small you helped in so many ways your advice on raising other people children , your generosity in so many ways. All you asked of me was PAY IT FORWARD SHIRLEY. I have done as requested , and of course I feel happy to have done so. You where a great mentor for me and I learned sooo much. My heart is full of love and cherished memories dear Lester. Please RIP you will be greatly missed but I'll always be smiling when I hear your name , and a giggle or two when I think about you. What a great soul you are. Till we meet again I'll hold you close in my heart always. Shirley Ballas. X

Tony Torres

March 19, 2019

I met Lester 15 years ago & I believe He took a liking to Me because of My Old Truck. A bright red 1955 Chevrolet Truck. Lester & Sue invited Me to The Big Biker Party (Biker Attire). They we're valet parking guest but told Me to bring My Truck over by house & setup lights shining on Truck. I felt so honored. After all, I'm just a small guy in all this! Lester & Sue treated Me even more special. Just the last few years Lester helped Me transform My life & change Me forever. As He was going through His Double Lung Transplant. What a Selfless Man. So sad that You're gone Lester! ❤


Learn more about the Smith name