Lowell “Stretch” Smith Jr., longtime banker and avid civic supporter in Johnson County, Texas, passed away Sunday, August 29, 2021. He was 88 years old.
Funeral services will be held at 12 Noon, Friday, September 3, 2021, at The Heights Church in Cleburne, Texas.
A visitation will be held from 6 – 8 p.m. Thursday, September 2, 2021 at Rosser Funeral Home.
Many people knew him as “Stretch”, an acquired name from his school days as a first baseman.
Stretch grew up on a family ranch near Rio Vista, TX. He attended Rio Vista schools and graduated from Cleburne High School.
Stretch graduated from SMU (Dallas, TX) in 1954 and married Shirley Segars Smith later that same year. They were married until Shirley’s death in 2018.
He served in the United States Air Force and held the final rank of Captain. Stretch followed his military service with work at the Texas Department of Banking as an assistant bank examiner. In the late 1950s, he returned to Johnson County to join the First State Bank of Rio Vista. He became President of the bank in the early 1960s and was named Chairman of the Board in 1975. Under his leadership, the bank became well known as “The Cowpasture Bank” and later added “Fly-In Bank” to its moniker. Stretch retired from banking when Wells Fargo/Norwest Bank purchased the bank in 1999. He continued to run his Family office until days before his death.
Stretch was also active in the banking industry serving as President of the Texas Bankers Association, Board of Directors of the American Bankers Association, and as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at SMU. He also served on the Advisory Council of Financial Institutions of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
He served through numerous civic capacities in the Cleburne, Rio Vista, and the Johnson County area, including Chairman of the Board of Johnson County Memorial Hospital, Board Member of the Cleburne I.S.D., Johnson County School Board, Advisory Board of Regents-Hill College, and Board Member of the Cleburne Economic Development Foundation. He was also a member of the Board of Trustees of Texas Wesleyan University and granted an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration, Fort Worth, TX.
Stretch was a long-time member and past President of the Rotary Club of Cleburne. He served as Board Member for the Texas Health Cleburne Development Council and was the first to receive the Lifetime Achievement award for fifty years of community involvement from the Cleburne Chamber of Commerce. He maintained an active relationship with the Lowell Smith Jr. Middle School named for him in 2008 and was proud of the students there.
Stretch was named to the CISD Ex Student Association Wall of Fame in 1999 and the same year received the Service Above Self from the Rotary Club. In 2005 he was named Times Review Man of the Year. In 2010 he was elected to the Cowboy Hall of Fame by the Western Multiculture Heritage Foundation. Johnson County Commissioners Court honored him with “Lowell Smith Day” in 2011. In 2016 he was inducted into the Texas Bankers Hall of Fame.
In 2017 he received School Adopter of the year. Hill College honored him with a Pillar of the Community Award in 2020. In May 2021, Stretch received the lifetime of Scouting Values award. On July 21, 2021, he received his 65 year member pin from Rio Vista’s Nolands River Masonic Lodge.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Lowell Sr. and Gladys Smith; and his beloved wife, Shirley Segars Smith.
Stretch is survived by his daughters, Sue Ann Smith of Weatherford, Texas and Pamela Smith and son-in-law, Hoke Smith; grandson, Wesley Smith and wife, Maya Bourdeau, and great-grandchildren, Arya and Isaline ; granddaughter, Amanda Smith Cronin and husband, Dr. Sean Cronin, and great-grandchildren, Nolan and Hannah; sister, Barbara Denton of Ft Worth; nephews, Lee Denton and wife, Sue, Randy Denton and wife, Gayle, and Mark Denton and wife, Sherry; and niece, Kathy Gillespie.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Mustang Foundation, PO Box 78, Cleburne, TX 76033 or to the charity of your choice.
THE SERVICES WILL BE LIVE STREAMED FOR THOSE WHO ARE UNABLE TO ATTEND. FOR DETAILS ON HOW TO CONNECT, PLEASE CONTACT CHURCHOFFICE@FUMCCLEBURNE.COM.