JANUARY 6, 1929–NOVEMBER 3, 2020
William Forrest Smith was born in Beaumont, TX, on January 6, 1929, the son of William Enoch and Mary Smith. He departed this life to go be with his Lord and Savior on November 3, 2020, surrounded by his family. He is survived by his loving wife of 68 years, Martha Ann McCarley and their 5 daughters Sherry, Jill, Lori, Chis and Candy and 8 grandchildren Carley, Michael Forrest, McKenzie, Mark, Madison, Dylan Forrest, London Forrest and Phebe Forrest Ann. His family meant everything to him and until the day he passed, he was serving and loving each of them.
Forrest grew up in Beaumont, TX, and graduated from Beaumont High at the age of 16. He attended Lon Morris Jr. College and then went to Southwestern University, Georgetown. He received his B.A. degree at Southwestern before entering law school at SMU. He met Martha on a blind date while they both attended SMU and married on December 22, 1952, at Perkins Chapel. Martha was so beautiful that Forrest often had to deal with the old saying that ‘he was way over married.’
Forrest worked at the Magnolia Petroleum Company (now Exxon) while he finished law school at SMU. He later joined Mobil Oil and was an attorney there for 35 years. While at Mobil he served as President of the Pegasus Credit Union and delivered over 100 speeches to various clubs and organizations. Early in his career he knew that public service would be a major part of his life. Forrest was always looking for a way to make life better for others and worked throughout his life doing so. He never met a stranger, and his smile, humor and energy were like no other.
He retired form Mobil Oil in 1984 and became the President of the Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce. His primary focus at the Chamber was to bring the city of Dallas together and make it a better place to live. He worked hard to grow the economy and to join the Hispanic and Black Chambers into partnership. During his tenure at the Chamber, he created a separate Economic Development Department and the Convention and Visitors Bureau as a separate entity. He cherished his job at the Chamber and continued to focus on improving Dallas for the rest of his life.
Forrest retired from the Chamber in 1988 to help start a new law firm in Dallas called Arter & Hadden. While at the firm, he created the first statewide program to enhance the work of Hispanic and Black lawyers in the business community. He retired from the firm in 1990 and, after working in private practice, joined Bell Nunnally and Martin. In 2007, he retired from Bell Nunnally and Martin and co-founded Ryan Law LLP.
In 1988 Forrest was appointed by the King of Thailand as Honorary Counsel General and served in that capacity until his death. He served as a member of the DFW Airport Board for 7 years and as chairman of the Dallas Better Business Bureau for 10 years. Forrest was an adjunct Professor at the SMU School of Law and taught State and Local Tax. He was appointed by Governor Bill Clements as a member of the Select Committee on Tax Equity. He was also appointed by Governor Preston Smith as a member of the Texas Youth Council where he made major changes to improve the way the children there were treated. Forrest was a mediator and mediated more than 500 disputes with 98% resulting in settlements. He even took a major tax case to the Supreme Court and won. He served as Chairman of the Dallas Motion Picture Board and as Chairman of the Save the Children Advisory Council. He also served as Chairman of the Dallas Park Board and the 1973 City of Dallas Bond campaign. He served two terms on the Parkland Hospital Board as Vice-chairman and was Chairman of the Dallas Economic Development board and of the City of Dallas Adopt-A-Block program. Forrest loved politics and even ran for Mayor of Dallas in 1991.
Forrest enjoyed creating worthy events and always had a new meaningful idea to help those in need. He created the Legends of Service Award for the Dallas Life Foundation and the Russell Perry Award for Dallas Baptist. He co-founded the Texas General Counsel Forum and founded the Committee for a Qualified Judiciary. He received numerous honors including the Outstanding Alumnus Award from Lon Morris and from Southwestern University. In 2014 he received the Justinian Award from the Dallas Bar Association and the Magna Stella award from the Texas General Counsel Forum. He was extremely honored when the Forum created the Forrest Smith Scholarship at the Dedman School of Law at SMU. He received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Dedman School of Law and also the well-deserved recognition as a Lion of the Texas Bar in the Texas Lawbook, 2016. At his death, at almost 92 years old, Forrest was still practicing law at Friedman and Feiger.
Forrest received so many honors throughout his life, but his most treasured was the Father of the Year Award given by the Dallas Morning News. All those who knew Forrest knew that he loved his family more than anything in the world. He was not only the best father to his five girls, but he also showed that same kind of love to countless others. He was very proud of this award because it honors fathers who exemplify fatherhood values and who are leaders in the community. To date, the organization has raised over $4 million for more than 86 children’s charities.
Forrest was a member of Bent Tree County Club and served as President. He loved playing golf and tennis there and meeting his friends early in the morning for coffee and breakfast. He was also a member of the Potter’s House Dallas and loved the Lord with ALL of his heart and soul. He loved the teachings of Bishop T.D. Jakes and also loved him as a son. He was previously a member of First Baptist Dallas where he started the President’s Class.
Thank you so much to UT Southwestern and to Baylor Plano for your amazing care and to the countless doctors and nurses who loved him deeply. Many of them referred to him as DAD and your hugs and fist bumps will not be forgotten. Forrest was initially given months to live because of leukemia and survived 12 years.
Way to go Daddy! Way to go Goddy! Thank you for ALL of your LOVE and for being the BEST example for how to live this life well. His Lord said to him, ‘Well Done good and faithful servant. Because you were faithful over a few things, I will set you over many things. Enter into the Joy of your Lord.’
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to the Forrest Smith Scholarship Fund at the SMU Dedman School of Law or to the Potter’s House.