Thomas W. Smith

November 16, 1940January 24, 2021

Thomas William Smith, age 80, passed away in Houston, Texas on January 24, 2021. He was born on November 16, 1940, in Flora, Carroll County, Indiana, the son of Georgana Baum and William Ralph Smith.

Tom’s parents divorced early on and he lived with his grandparents, “Mom and Dad” Baum, until he went to live with his mother and step-father Ernest L. Jones in Owensboro, Kentucky, in 1948. They moved to Evansville and then Shoals, Indiana, before moving to Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1950. They moved several times in the city and in 1957, at the age of 16, Tom went to live with his father for a few months in Indianapolis and then on his 17th birthday he decided that after attending 13 different schools in 10 ½ years that it was time to join the military and learn a trade. This was the beginning of his life’s philosophy of, “Control your own destiny, or someone else will”.

He left for Navy Boot Camp in San Diego, California, on January 8, 1958. After boot camp he attended the Navy Machinists Mate School at Great Lakes, Illinois, and was then transferred to the Naval Reserve Fleet at Bayonne, New Jersey, where he helped maintain about 100 ships that were in mothballed reserve for potential reactivation. In 1959 he was transferred to the USS Norfolk DL-1, homeported in Norfolk, Virginia. The ship made several Caribbean cruises, a NATO cruise above the Arctic Circle in 1960 and a cruise that circumference South America in 1961.

He reenlisted in the Navy and was transferred to the USS Coral Sea CVA-43, homeported in Alameda, California. Over the next three years the ship made three Western Pacific cruises to Australia and several Far East countries. In 1965 it conducted it’s first Vietnam War cruise including the first carrier based air strikes of the war against North Vietnam losing a total of 21 aircraft and 9 pilots KIA.

Tom left the ship in August of 1965 and transferred to the Naval Reserve Fleet in Philadelphia. In October of 1967 he flew into Saigon and spent a week trying to find the USS Oxford AGTR-1, stationed in Vietnam. This was the Navy’s premier intelligence gathering platform, aka a “Spy Ship”, and was a Top Secret operation. A year later he was dumped onto Phu Quoc Island where he hitch hiked across Vietnam and flew out of Saigon across the Pacific to California.

He was then assigned to the USS Kenneth D. Bailey DD-713 homeported in Mayport, Florida, learning years later that he was a cousin to the WWII Medal of Honor winner that the ship was named for. After a Mediterranean cruise in 1969 he transferred to the Philadelphia Naval Base and was discharged on April 16, 1970, after 12 years and 3 months service. Control your own destiny….

On April 20, 1970 he went to work as a Repair Engineer for the DeLaval Steam Turbine Company in Trenton, New Jersey. After several promotions, Tom requested a transfer (Control your own destiny…) in 1978 to the company service center in Houston, Texas, where he established the Repair Engineering Department. He remained as the Engineering Manager for the next 15 years and was promoted to the General Manager of the Houston Operations in 1993. In 1997 Tom requested a change of scenery (Control your own destiny…) and traveled the world to ascertain a favorable place to open the first company overseas operation. He selected South Africa and in early 1998 he and his wife Annie relocated to Johannesburg where Tom became the Regional Operations Manager for sub-Saharan Africa. They met lifelong friends Dan and Ellie Bump and for the next two years they traveled to many African countries on business and pleasure trips.

In 2000 they moved across the Atlantic Ocean to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where Tom fulfilled an identical role in sub-Caribbean South America. The political situation in Argentina dictated returning to Houston near the end of 2001.

Tom remained with the company as it changed names to TurboCare and then EthosEnergy in various senior management consulting roles globally until he retired at the end of 2016. Although retired, he continued to do consulting jobs until his death.

Having been bitten by his quest to visit as many countries in the world as he could during his lifetime, he went from the Arctic to the Antarctic Circles and visited countries on all seven continents. His latest total was nearing 90 countries. His last check on the “bucket list” was the Southeast Asia Horizons trip from October 29, 2019 – December 3, 2019. He had two goals to accomplish on this trip. First, he wanted to return to Vietnam. Tom did not tend to get too emotional, but he did get that way on this trip when he related his experiences and what he saw there. He wanted to find out if there was such a thing as “Closure” that you hear so much about. Second, he wanted to see and ascend Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the world’s largest religious structure. Mission accomplished on both. Tom also loved to write, he would put together photo books journaling his experiences after each vacation trip. He was also passionate about genealogy and published a book on his maternal ancestors. Tom still had a bucket list of many places yet to visit. His life was cut too short for his dreams (A destiny he could not control…).

Tom was preceded in death by his parents, Georgana Baum and William Smith.

Survived by his loving wife of 40 years Annie Smith; his daughter Renee Andrews (husband Fred); daughter Jennifer Harman (husband Jim); daughter Nina Howard (husband Jay) along with his precious granddaughters, Emily and Ashley and son Mark Diaz (who now has the watch).

He also leaves behind sisters Judy Harris and Karen Nickelson (husband Alan), brother Ed Jones (wife Sharon) along with Aunt Bette D’arco who was like a mother to him and a beautiful extended family of brother and sister-in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews, along with a community of dear friends and colleagues. Each person in his life left their mark that truly made his life journey complete. A special shout out to the numerous shipmates that became family while serving on the USS Norfolk DL-1, USS Coral Sea CVA-43, USS Oxford AGTR-1 and the USS Kenneth D. Bailey DD-713.

Pallbearers: Mark Diaz (Son) Jay Howard (Son in law) Scott Hill (Long time friend) Rusty McCain (Long time friend) Frank Leija (Brother in Law) Robert Cherry (Brother in Law)

Honorary Pallbearers: Johnny Cherry (Brother in Law) Tommie Cherry (Brother in Law)

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project ( or Shriners Hospital for Children (

You can view livestream: ( Go to Forest Park Lawndale's Facebook page and click on Thomas W. Smith. It will begin at 10:30am.

Tom was an outstanding man who lived an amazing life!


  • Visitation

    Tuesday, February 23, 2021

  • Funeral Services

    Tuesday, February 23, 2021

  • Houston National Cemetery

    Tuesday, February 23, 2021


Thomas W. Smith

have a memory or condolence to add?

Lorin Shirdon

February 18, 2021

Tom and I met at Ethos Energy in the rotor shop 2016 because of common steam turbine work Ak steel delaval units in industry and the US Navy

We then found out we met in 1995 when I came to witness a high speed balance for my 1951 replacement rotor at Deltak near hobby before turbocare 2001 expansion

Then we played ⛳ a few times just this past year after his retirement

A great guy who served our country and industry well

Would like to meet his son one day

Prayers to the family

Joe & Evelyn Grippaldi

February 16, 2021

In July 2018, we met Tom & Annie (and Dan & Ellie, too) while travelling in China and Tibet. We instantly connected with all of them, and over a two week period, the six of us really bonded. After our amazing travels, Evelyn and I said that we would definitely see the foursome again, but darn COVID caused us to cancel last year’s trip in March—we were so disappointed. Now we are so sad that such an interesting, intelligent, warm, easy-going guy has been taken too young. Our sincere condolences to Annie and both their families.
-Joe & Evelyn Grippaldi

Sherrill Guidry

February 14, 2021

The Guidry boys served with Tom aboard the Coral Sea. Many good memories.
Love and miss you Tom and Annie.

Mary R. Gilmore

February 11, 2021

It is with sadness to learn that Tom has completed his earthly journey.

I have fond memories of working for Tom when he was General Manager at TurboCare. His upbeat attitude and professionalism was always present in the workplace. He was a thoughtful caring man. Rest In Peace Tom.

Jim and I extend our condolences to you and your family at this very difficult time.

Juan Portillo

February 10, 2021

Where to begin, I actually met Tom at our local YMCA in Pearland TX. He was working out his shoulders on a pulley machine and he was decked out in his navy attire! And of course as I passed him by I also happened to be in my Navy gear and it was downhill from there! As I was still active duty at the time, it happened at that time I was heading the khaki ball committee that year and it was a no brainer to have Tom as my guest speaker! I still remember when I asked him he was very excited and it wasn't about 5 days when he invited me over to his home and give me his 30 minute power point presentation on his trials and tribulations of his 10 year stint. (Which his power point was amazing by the way)! Someone with that much passion for life just makes us grateful we were able to cross paths with this humble man.

Thanks Tom for your friendship...

With much love,

Juan and Jennifer Portillo

Denise Puente

February 10, 2021

Tom, I just wanted to thank you for being a surrogate dad for me during my drill team days. You and Annie have been so good to me from childhood to adulthood. I can never express how much that means to me. Thank you for everything. Godspeed, Tom!

Dario Peagno

February 5, 2021

Tom – a true gentleman and scoundrel, with a heart bigger than most. Mentor and coach, always thinking about others and how he could help them. I owe him a lot which cannot be repaid, including introducing me to Tabasco, and I've never looked back. He looked after me like a father whilst working together in South Africa and during many visits to the US. Will always remember him. Vale to a great human being and role model.

Bill Catlow

February 2, 2021

Tom was an amazing man and I am so fortunate to have had the pleasure of having him as a friend. His curiosity, love for adventure and willingness to always take on new challenges set him apart as a special human being. My wife Sandie and I were fortunate to have travelled with him and Annie to several worldwide destinations and I will never forget the wonderful times that we had. My sincere condolences to Annie and Tom's family. Bill Catlow

Herb Sirois

February 2, 2021

What a gentleman Tom Smith was! All the IMO Delaval and Turbocare sessions we attended and shared experiences. Tom lived his life in control of his destiny and remained a true gentleman. I now wish I had kept in touch with him.

Vince Wagner

February 2, 2021

Many great memories over our years at Delaval/Turbocare and their many names. Work memories, golf memories, dinner memories, travel memories, but the one that lasts is what a fine gentleman and capable guy Tom always was.
Always a pleasure to be around.
God bless Tom, Annie, and your family.