- April 29, 2013
- By Ken Camp / Managing Editor
ALVIN—Leo Smith, former Texas Baptist Men president and executive director, died April 28 in Alvin after a battle with cancer. He was 75.
Smith initially became involved with the missions organization through his work with the Royal Ambassadors program for boys in the mid-1960s, when it was part of the Baptist General Convention of Texas Brotherhood Department.
After Texas Baptist Men became a self-governing organization, Smith—a longtime pastor—was selected as vice president of various programs on numerous occasions, served on multiple committees and was elected TBM president in 2001.
Smith began service as interim executive director the following year, and the TBM board elected him executive director in February 2004.
When Smith became executive director, TBM had a $900,000 annual budget, based entirely on funding from the BGCT. When he retired in 2011, TBM administered $3.2 million annually, including disaster relief funds, even though funding through the BGCT Cooperative Program declined to less than $500,000 a year.
“In the years Leo Smith served as our executive director, God moved in a mighty way through Texas Baptist Men, and Leo helped us become who we are today,” said Don Gibson, who served on staff with Smith and succeeded him as TBM executive director. “He taught us a lot about faith and how to depend on God for all our needs.”
The TBM staff—both paid and volunteer—grew during Smith’s tenure as executive director. Smith helped the organization move its offices from the Baptist Building to the Dixon Missions Equipping Center in east Dallas and expanded the facility to house a continually growing fleet of disaster relief vehicles and equipment.
Born in Ysleta, near El Paso, Smith became a Christian and committed his life to the gospel ministry at Baptist Temple in San Antonio.
He earned a degree from the University of Corpus Christi and served more than 49 years as a pastor—the last 25 at Highlands Baptist Church in LaMarque. His other pastorates included Marcelina Baptist Church in Floresville, Choate Baptist Church in Kenedy, Crescent Valley Baptist Church in Victoria and First Baptist Church in Richmond.
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Cordelia, and their five children and their spouses—Vernon Lee Smith of LaMarque; Terry Lynn Ray of Alvin; Timothy Lane and Bonnie Smith of St. Peters, Mo.; Tammy Leigh and Robert Warren of McKinney; and Vikki L’Dawn and David Kirk of League City. He also is survived by his sister, Verna Jo Sisson of El Paso, 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
The family asked that donations in his memory be made to TBM Disaster Relief or the TBM Forever Foundation.
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