- Cleburne Independent School District
Flags at Half-Staff Tuesday at Lowell Smith, Jr. Middle School Following the Passing of Campus' Namesake
Flags at Lowell Smith, Jr. Middle School will be moved to half-staff Tuesday in memory of the campus namesake who passed away on Sunday.
A memorial service for Mr. Smith will take place Friday at noon at The Heights Church in Cleburne. Visitation is set for Thursday from 6-8 PM at Rosser Funeral Home.
In April of 2007, members of the Cleburne ISD Board of Trustees unanimously approved the renaming of Cleburne Middle School in Smith’s honor. Bringing up his name for discussion, Donna Boles, school board president at that time, noted “Mr. Smith never hesitates to step up to a cause, no matter what it is, and he has provided numerous scholarships and so many opportunities for our students and graduates.”
Smith was a member of the Cleburne High School Class of 1950. It was at CHS that he received the nickname, “Stretch,” while playing first base for the Jackets. He was among the first to be honored by the Cleburne Ex-Students Association in being inducted into the CHS Wall of Fame. He also served as a member of the CISD Board of Trustees in the 1970s.
Principal Dr. Amber White said it was hard for her to find the words to adequately express Smith’s dedication and generosity to her campus and CISD.
“It is difficult to put into words the impact that Mr. Smith had on our school community,” White said. “He is one of the most selfless people I have had the pleasure of meeting and his love for the community of Cleburne was as big as his heart. His generosity provided opportunities for our students that otherwise wouldn't have been possible, as well as providing to meet the most basic needs of so many of our students.”
“He blessed many with his humility, and his telling of stories will be something that I personally will miss about Mr. Smith,” White said. “As principal, I could not be more honored to have the name Lowell Smith, Jr. on the front of the building and help continue his legacy.”
Dr. Kyle Heath met Smith shortly after he had been announced as the new superintendent of Cleburne ISD.
“One of the first days after I was hired, I was taken to lunch at Susannah’s,” Heath said. “Stretch was also there having lunch and I was introduced to him as the new superintendent. When we got ready to leave, we were informed that he had paid for our lunch. He was such a caring person, who thought the world of this community and the people who live here.”
“Stretch was very committed to education and our school district, students and teachers,” Heath said. “He was very excited about the community’s investment in the new high school and our Career and Technical Education program. He was such a great man and we will all miss him.”
Bill Allen, CISD social studies, health and physical education curriculum coordinator, spent eight years as campus leader at Lowell Smith, Jr. Middle School, during which Smith and his wife served as student mentors.
“Mr. Smith was always extremely supportive of our work with students,” Allen said. “He and Mrs. Smith served as student mentors at our campus—she for two years, he for three. It was very beneficial for those students who got to spend extra time with him. We were all thrilled, students and staff, when he came to special events at our campus.”
“On a personal note, I got to know him as a friend at school and church,” Allen said. “His presence in our community was larger than life, yet he never acted that way. He treated everyone the same--with kindness and respect--regardless of who they were or their station in life. We will definitely miss him.”
In a news release filed by Cleburne ISD in September of 2007, following Smith’s first visit to the campus with his name on the building, he talked about the surprise in receiving news of the school board’s decision. He also talked about the importance of education and his joy in doing for others.
“I had very little words to say when Donna (Boles) called,” Smith said. “I was so surprised—it was a wonderful surprise. I had read about the process they were going through to rename the middle schools but I never would have thought about being considered.”
“After I hung up with Donna, I turned to my wife, Shirley, and said ‘you’re not going to believe what she just said.’ I just had to sit down and think about it a while. There are so many qualified people out there for such an honor, so many who are deserving,” Smith said. “It was a humbling experience that night and now. I appreciate it so much.”
“People have been so kind to me and my family down through the years,” Smith said. “But this—this is the topper.”
“If you are wanting to better society, the best way is to raise the education level of the people,” Smith said. “If you want a better country, providing the best education possible is the way to do it.”
“There are so many good things, positive things that have happened in education and because of education. We should all look at the positives—they’re out there. And so are the challenges. The challenges of our teachers and administrators are unbelievable, but the results are so worth it. Anything worthwhile is worth the challenge.”
“Education is supposed to prepare you for the next phase of your life,” he said. “We’ve been glad to help young people who want to continue with their education. I think it’s fun to do for others. Doing for others can mean a whole lot of things—but it can really be fun.”