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Herbert B. Smith

Obituary for Herbert B. Smith

December 4, 1920 - October 14, 2017
Austin, Texas | Age 96


Herbert B. Smith, 96, passed away on October 14, 2017 in Austin, Texas. Herb was born on December 4, 1920 in Shreveport, Louisiana. After graduating from Byrd High School in Shreveport, he attended The University of Texas at Austin. During his third year, he interrupted his education to serve in World War II with the Naval Air Corp as a fighter pilot. He was stationed in the Pacific aboard the aircraft carriers USS Ticonderoga and USS Hancock. His combat decorations include 5 Air Medals and the Distinguished Flying Cross. He remained in the active reserves and retired from the Navy in 1966 after 21 years of service. He shared his war stories in a recorded interview which is archived at the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas.

At the conclusion of the war, he met the love of his life, Jeannette, in CA. They married on April 12, 1946 and returned to UT to finish his degree in Chemical Engineering. Following graduation, Herb began his business career in 1947 as a technical service engineer and industrial salesman for 3M. In 1956 he founded Southwest Printed Tape Company (later Contact Products) and grew the company from 2 to 156 employees in the next 20 years. He was a pioneer in applying flexographic printing techniques to relatively new tape and label products, designing and building his own printing machines, and he was prominent in the Tag and Label Manufacturing Institute. This was his first of several successful entrepreneurial ventures.

Throughout his life, Herb was an avid and accomplished golfer, sporting a single-digit handicap for many years. He took up handball at UT and enjoyed playing with friends in Dallas for the next 40 years. Herb loved to fly and flew everything from jets to single-engine aircrafts while in the reserves and for years after. Herb was also a devoted Longhorn and long-time Cowboys fan.

After retirement, Herb and Jeannette moved to the Austin area to be with their children and grandchildren. Having reached his 90's without serious injury, Herb joined fellow Querencians in his first – and only – skydiving adventure at the age of 92. He told the Austin American-Statesman "I've been flying all my life, but I've never had to use a parachute."

Herb was preceded in death by his parents Gertrude and I. Henry Smith, Sr. and his brothers James Vandiver (Van) Smith and I. Henry Smith, Jr. He is survived by his adored wife of 71 years, Jeannette Devorak Smith; two children, Jeff Smith (wife Jaelene) and Sandy Torenko (husband Bill); granddaughters Natasha Smith and Kimberly Hayes (husband Gerard); and great grandchildren Owen and Colin Hayes; as well as by the many friends he and Jeanette made in the Querencia community. He was sharp-witted to the end, with a special charm that always made people smile.

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Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home North

3125 N Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78705
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