Obituary for Robert Smith
Colonel Robert Barr Smith
Born in San Francisco, he was descended from a long line of American soldiers, a tough Black Hills lawman and a self-taught mining engineer. He earned two degrees from Stanford University: bachelor of history, and doctor of laws. That education was advanced in large part by his own work as a gold miner, cannery worker, mining camp cook, fraternity cook, dish washer, truck driver, hotel clerk, waiter, and honky-tonk piano player. Bob served as both a deputy attorney general of California, and an associate in a large San Francisco law firm, before he became a soldier himself, drafted and rising from Private to Colonel, along the way making more than 60 parachute jumps from planes and helicopters. Serving overseas repeatedly and across United States, his decorations include two awards at the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, 2 Army Meritorious Service Medals, the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, ana other US and foreign military decorations. He also earned senior parachutist wings. He completed the Army Command and General Staff Course, and was a graduate of the Defense Language Institute, where he gained fluency in German language, and of the Army jumpmaster school.
His duty assignments included military judge, prosecutor and defense council work at Ft Huachuca, AZ; The Presidio of Monterey, CA; the 4th US Army Infantry Division in the Republic of Vietnam; The 82nd Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg, NC; 3rd US Armor Division in West Germany; CGSC at Ft. Leavenworth, KS; The Pentagon office of TJAG; US Army Infantry School & Ft Benning, GA; 1st US Armor Division and the V US Army Corps in West Germany; the 9th Infantry Division at Ft Ord, CA; and retiring from Ft. Leavenworth.
While at Ft Benning, his staff handled the case of the infamous "My Lai Massacre," while he and other Ft Benning leaders coordinated for and hosted the resettlement of 10,000 refugees from South Vietnam into the US. While serving in Germany, he taught law and paralegal courses for University of Maryland. He additionally began training for marathons by running in numerous races of 5 to 13.1 miles in length.
After retiring from the Army, he settled in Oklahoma, where he became a professor of law at the University of Oklahoma Law Center and School. He created and taught numerous law and paralegal courses, coached numerous moot court competition teams to 'first place' finishes in national contests, and was appointed project manager to expand the OU law center and school facility, adding functional and teaching courtrooms and classrooms, a new law library, prisoner holding cells, mass media spaces, and other functional spaces--one of which bears his name. He served for several years as Associate Dean, and was designated professor emeritus upon his retirement. While at OU, he also regularly taught courses in military history for the OU Army and Air Force ROTCs, and in management for the College of Continuing Education. In addition to several years as a lecturer at the US Army's and US Air Force's JAG schools, he also occasionally taught inmates at the state prison in Lexington, and coached law students through the Oklahoma Bar Review.
Concurrent with his teaching and occasional consulting to the Oklahoma State Supreme Court and on civil court cases, he began a third career, writing about his favorite people: the men and women who wear their countries' uniforms, and separately, the stars of law enforcement.
Now, 22 books, over 120 magazine articles, and a screen story later, he lived quietly in southern Missouri and wrote full-time. His books include three on legal subjects, two on military history, 15 on the history of the American Wild West, and one historical fiction novel. In celebration of the 125th anniversary of the congregation, Bob wrote the history of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Norman, OK, where he served as Senior Warden.
He edited several books for other writers, spoken to many audiences across the country interested in western and military history, and appeared on The History Channel television shows as a published subject matter expert in the same fields. Several more books and articles remain in various stages of completion.
A lover of animals throughout his life, Bob always kept rescued dogs and cats as pets. He is survived by his wife and two sons.
The family will receive friends from 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Friday, September 1, 2017 at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Springfield, Missouri, with services beginning at 11:00 AM in the church.
Burial with full military honors will be at 1:00 PM in Missouri Veterans Cemetery, Springfield, Missouri under the care and direction of Greenlawn Funeral Home East, Springfield, Missouri.
Memorial services will also be held at 3:00 PM Friday, September 15, 2017 at All Souls Episcopal Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to The Purple Heart Foundation, to Hospice & Palliative Care Compassus in Branson, MO, or to the Humane Society of the United States.