William "Bill" Henry Smiley III

August 4, 1954January 4, 2020

William “Bill” Henry Smiley III (Hebrew name Avram Zagoren) was born August 4, 1954, to Sylvia and William “Hank” Smiley II in Oklahoma City, OK, then the family relocated temporarily to Midland, Texas where he attended Robert E. Lee High School, graduating with the class of 1972. He was preceded in death by both of his parents and is survived by one brother, John of Oklahoma City. Bill studied and earned a masters degree in music education from the University of Texas in Austin. He also took classes at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, as well as Central State University in Edmond, Oklahoma, and the University of Science and Arts in Chickasha, Oklahoma. Later in his life, Bill also studied and earned degrees in Spanish and French at Oklahoma City Community College. Bill began his teaching career in vocal music at Ninnekah High School (1985-1986) as well as Midwest City High School (1986-1987) before making his longest career move to Bridge Creek High School (1987-2011). He also taught and tutored at Oklahoma City Community College and Upward Bound (2001-2019). In addition to being a teacher, Bill was also an author, a composer, a licensed counselor, and even an ordained minister who officiated at many wedding ceremonies over the years. As one who appreciated the spoken and written word, Bill studied French, Hebrew, and Spanish and could converse casually in many other languages as well. He loved all animals, especially Boston Terriers, including his last surviving “Honey.” Bill also enjoyed his studies of the Hebrew faith and spent many an hour working on his over 300 page opera based on the book of Esther from the Old Testament. The challenge she received can be found in Esther 4:14, and it may very well be the one that Bill accepted for himself. “Who knows but that you have come to your position for such a time as this?” Cherished for his character, compassion, generosity, musical ingenuity, and wisdom, Bill changed the lives of thousands and inspired just as many to achieve their dreams.


  • John Smiley, Brother
  • Dear Close Friend and Caregiver, Jamie Bortscheller


  • Graveside Friday, January 10, 2020
  • Celebration of Life Saturday, January 18, 2020


William "Bill" Henry Smiley III

have a memory or condolence to add?

Cindy Prince

January 17, 2020

I’m so sorry i didn’t get the chance to know Bill but if he was anything like John, he must have been very loved by many people! My sincere condolences on the loss of your dear brother John!

Amanda Yarbrough-Clark

January 16, 2020

I am one of the many students who was lucky enough to have Bill as a teacher. He was kind to a fault and so very funny. He taught us Creekers to sing and so much more. He gave us pride in ourselves, leading us to some wonderful wins as a choir. He taught us not to take ourselves too seriously, to be kind to all, to love life and live it to the fullest, and to keep a song in our hearts. I will always remember belting out the BC Clark song at the end of a Christmas concert full of beautiful Christmas hymns and traditional carols just to get the audience to laugh. I will always appreciate how he kept in touch with us on Facebook and made us a priority. He was a great man. The world is a lesser place without him. He meant the world to so many. Heaven’s choir is lucky to have him. We love you Bill.

Mike Williams

January 11, 2020

Bill and I met in choir back in Midland Texas at Lee High School in 1971. Our senior year was quite notable and a bond of music and just the fun of life was apparent. Bill would come over to my house and bring his cassette recorder and sit at our player piano recording piano roll songs and then come back in a day or two and play them. An amazing and talented person. . Bill's name was so appropriate. When he smiled, his whole body smiled. We shall never forget that laugh or the face when he really got tickled. It was infectious and we loved having him around. I feel blessed to have known him then and throughout all these years. You still are are a blessing Bill Smiley.

Doug & Ella Sprung

January 9, 2020

John, we are so sad for the loss of your brother Bill. He was very talented. The first time we heard him play the piano was at a party hosted by the Robinsons. When our son was in the fourth grade, Bill gave him piano lessons. Steven really liked Bill, and probably would not have enjoyed lessons with anyone else. We were at your parents' anniversary celebration when Bill was recognized for writing the opera of Esther commemorating Israel's 50 years of statehood. All of this is to say that we remember Bill with fondness and admiration. We hold you in prayer at this difficult time. May the love and peace of God be with you in the days ahead.
In deep sympathy, Doug & Ella Sprung

Glenda Stansbury

January 9, 2020

I met Bill when he wandered into the Baptist Student Union at Central State in 1974. We shared our love of music, he challenged me to be a better piano player. We rolled our eyes at the absurdities of life and I hoped that he would find a way to be his true self and embrace his joy and his truth. He was genuine and so very very talented. Though I lost touch after college, just the mention of his name brings a smile. Rest In Peace sweet guy.

Angela Morgan-Freeman

January 9, 2020


He started in my life as Bill Smiley when I first met him at Bet Ami. He became Mr. Smiley some time later when, to my surprise, he took over our choir class at Bridge Creek. He was a teacher, mentor, a friend. He even was my student as I tutored him through Spanish classes. He was family, and he performed the marriage ceremonies for myself and three of my siblings. He was a member of Reality Tabernacle and our infamous Thanksgiving Dinners where we served COFFEE!!, and really bad cheesy potatoes. He was unparalleled in this life. He will be greatly missed.

Bill: "que te vas por la sombrita". ;)

Chiaki Troutman

January 8, 2020

Bill was a great coworker, mentor, and tutor in the  lang. & culture lab. Bill worked in the lab until spring  2017. He also created over 60 tutorial grammar handouts for learners of Spanish over time, and students still use them today. In the lab, during slow times, we would talk about our pets, different foreign languages, art, and his compositions over coffee. Because of his humor and lively wit, I would burst into laughter at his jokes so many times. Even after leaving the lab, he would sometimes send me  kind email messages asking how I was and wishing me a peaceful day. He would bring his summer Upward Bound students to the lab. That way he showed me how to keep in touch with coworkers in a professional manner. I am grateful that I visited him in the hospital last November and was able to say “Thank you” to him. I will miss him. 

Chris Beaird

January 8, 2020

How the years have passed and with it brought times of joy and times of sorrow. I remember Mr. Smiley as that one person in school you could count on in any situation. I remember the countless crosswords 🤦‍♂️ He always managed to find, make, or reuse. I’ll never forget the compassionate and caring guidance he gave so selflessly to all of us that needed it, even us who didn’t. When I read about his failing health my heart sank. After all these years he always managed to check in from time to time. This man is a true testament to the definition of what it means to give selflessly. I have a deep sadness, not for our loss, but for the future students who won’t experience this great gentleman. Go rest high my friend until we meet again.

P.S. Peter Cottontail hasn’t worn clothes in any of his songs since I met Bill Smiley, I hope someone else gets this LOL.

Aric Harmon

January 8, 2020

Mr. Smiles,
I sit here and remember back to 5th grade singing old TV show tunes. I always loved going to music you made it fun and exciting. How many hundreds of times had you played those songs yet you always loved them. Thank you for being a true person never changing and always a steady counselor. Even into our adulthood you would encourage us and love us. Thank you for all of your prayers and kind words. Hate to see you go. I challenge myself and others to remember this. "... all things work together for good, for those that love God, and are called according to his purpose." Roman's 8:28 Rest peacefully my friend.

Jaclyn Comola

January 8, 2020

Dear John, There are so many memories of Bill. When he played piano on our patio the evening after David's Bar Mitzvah. All the wonderful times spent with all the Smileys over the years in Midland. He stayed with me when he came back for a LHS reunion. And especially when he took me out to see the tigers. That was a thrill I will never forget. The friendship our families shared will remain in my memory always.