Robert Ryland Smith

November 7, 1929October 28, 2020

Robert “Bob” Ryland Smith passed away Wednesday, October 28, 2020, at Methodist Hospital TMC, Houston, Texas. Bob was 90 years old, born November 7, 1929, in St. Louis, Missouri, to Robert Francis Smith and Lucille McClure Smith. He graduated from The University of Missouri, Columbia, with a B.A. degree in Geology in 1952 and an M.A. degree in Geology in 1953. While at the University of Missouri, he was inducted into Pi Beta Kappa and the National Honor Society of Scabbard and Blade. He then served two years as a 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, stationed at Wright-Patterson, AFB, Ohio. Upon leaving the military, Bob began a 37-year career with Shell Oil Company, USA as a geologist and later as District Exploration Manager in Alaska.

Bob married Louise Carr on June 6, 1953, in Columbia, Missouri, and had one daughter, Katherine Louise Smith Dawson. Bob’s career with Shell spanned over 37 years of contributions to Alaska and West Coast geology and exploration. Upon retirement from Shell Western E&P Inc., USA, Bob became active in the United States Power Squadron and taught navigation courses through the squadron. He and his wife enjoyed sailing and racing their Lightning Sailboat, and Bob sailed extensively in the South Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean. Bob was an avid skier and served on various National Ski Patrols. He continued skiing until he was 85 years old. Bob and Louise learned to fly small airplanes together and enjoyed traveling. While at home, he enjoyed working with his hands and completed many remodeling projects. Bob was an avid reader, and in his later years, he constructed and completed various model ships. Bob was an active resident at The Buckingham, Senior Living Community in Houston, Texas.

He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Louise Carr Smith; daughter and son-in-law, Katherine and Lane Dawson; grandchildren, Andrew Dawson, Madeleine Dawson, and Rebecca Dawson. He is preceded in death by his parents, Robert Francis Smith and Lucille McClure Smith; sister, Ruth Ann Wentz.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Spring Branch Education Foundation ( Donation checks can be made out to the Spring Branch Education Foundation and mailed to the SBEF – Education Foundation; 955 Campbell Road; Houston, Texas 77024. Graveside service will be held on November 2, 2020, at 10:30 a.m. at Houston National Cemetery, 10410 Veterans Memorial Drive, Houston, Texas. Arrangements are under the care of Earthman Funeral Directors at 8303 Katy Freeway, Houston, TX 77024.


  • Graveside Service

    Monday, November 2, 2020


Robert Ryland Smith

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Ralph Kerr

November 26, 2020

I worked for Bob when he was Exploration Manager for Alaska in the 1980’s. We were all young and full of energy, and Bob was the perfect person to keep everyone pointed in the right direction. I learned a lot from him, and not just about geology. He could be tough and expected excellence, but also had a compassionate side. He knew how to get the finest from people, and I look back on those days as some of the best of my career. All my thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Charles Sternbach

November 25, 2020

Bob inspired me because he was the consummate geologist. He demanded excellence, and when he got it, his smile was heart-warming. He upped all our games when it came to well sit in Alaska. Linda and I enjoyed seeing Bob at Chateau Lake Louise after an AAPG meeting. He pointed to his wife Louise and said, "This is her lake". Caring thoughts to Bob's family and friends.


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