Cover photo for Dan Smith's Obituary
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1934 Dan 2024

Dan Smith

November 21, 1934 — April 27, 2024

Dan Robert Smith, 89, of Abilene, Texas, went to be with the Lord on April 27, 2024, surrounded by family. His love of family, especially his grandchildren, kept him going longer than his health should have allowed. Dan maintained his faith in God, positive outlook, and sense of humor through the end. When asked if he knew where he was while reluctantly checking into the hospital for the final time, Dan joked, "Alcatraz."

Dan's visitation and funeral will take place at Hamil Family Funeral Home at 12:30 PM and 1:00 PM, respectively, on Wednesday, May 1, four days after his passing as Dan humorously requested, "to make sure I'm really gone." A graveside service at Elmwood Memorial Park will follow at 2:00 PM, with a late lunch for friends and family to celebrate Dan's life afterwards. In lieu of flowers, feel free to donate to the American Heart Association or the American Cancer Society.

Born in the rural community of Roby, Texas, in 1934, Dan grew up in a house with no running water and only animal skins to cover the floor. For Dan, hunting and fishing was a way of life. The son of Thomas "Tom" Benton Smith and Minnie Mae "Mayme" Parsons Smith, Dan moved with his parents and three older siblings to the bustling town of Stamford in 1941 where Tom got transferred with West Texas Utilities. Mayme had her own ironing business and taught Sunday school for 40 years. Dan graduated Stamford High School in 1953 having served four years as the Bulldog's class president while playing football under coaching legend Gordon Wood.

Dan's achievements in football won him a scholarship to the University of Colorado, the first in his family to go to college and the farthest he had ever been from Stamford. After a year with the Buffaloes and homesick for Texas, Dan transferred to McMurry College (now University) in Abilene where played his remaining years as a McMurry Indian before graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1958.

Even though he was named to Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities, Dan's greatest achievement at McMurry was wooing a freshman from New Mexico, Norma Jo Campbell. Jo thinks Dan liked her because she could type faster than anyone around and he had a lot of senior papers due. She tells of the time she stayed up all night typing a paper for him. The next morning, she handed it to him on the way to class, and his only response was, "There's a typo." Jo may not have spoken to Dan for a while after that, but she did say, "I do" on August 23, 1958, at First Methodist Church in Hobbs, NM. They remained married for almost 66 years or, as Dan often kidded, "Five happy years." (Jo shoots back that it's unclear which of those 66 years were the five happy ones!)

The newlyweds rented an apartment on 22nd Street in Abilene, bought a home on 23rd Street soon after, and eventually settled nearby into their final home for the past 57 years, only a few blocks from where their journey together began.

Dan's desire to become a high school coach shifted when he took a temporary job for an insurance agency. A natural salesman, Dan spent the next 50 years in the insurance business. During that time, he served as President of the local Life Underwriters Association, owned his own agency, and even spearheaded his own insurance company. Dan's specialty was life insurance because "everyone could use it."

As his business grew beyond Abilene, Dan said, "I needed to move faster, so I learned to fly." Hence, he got his pilot's license and a Cessna 182 which he flew for many years for both work and pleasure. His ventures even took him to Hollywood where he met some of the biggest stars of yesteryear while producing shows for Bob Hope. Dan's successes took him far, but he chose to stay near.

Believing that home is where the heart is, Dan endeavored all his adult life to build a better Abilene community. He welcomed new officers from Dyess as part of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee; served on building committees for Shotwell Stadium and the new airport; and participated in Citizens for a Better Government. Dan tirelessly raised money for various causes he supported including Ducks Unlimited, Disability Resources, and the Abilene Opera Association. When sweat and tears were not enough, he donated over 45 gallons of blood to the local blood bank.

Dan's charity extended to his family's interests above all. Dan grilled hundreds of "bison burgers" at Madison Middle School, raised funds for the Cooper High School marching band to travel to the Tournament of Roses Parade, and, acquired Oleo Acres horse stables on Buffalo Gap Road (then on the outskirts of town) for his daughter's burgeoning love of horses. When wife Jo's bridge club needed a new roof, he raised money for that, too.

Wherever his kids were, Dan was always present, whether it was rodeos or marching band contests. On football Saturdays, he would sport a Texas A&M shirt and USC hat in support of their respective teams. Dan would not hesitate to flip the channel from the Dallas Cowboys or Texas Rangers when his rodeo star granddaughter would appear on the Cowboy Channel. And, as soon as his young grandson would come through the door, he would rough him up just like the old football days.

Dan looks forward to reuniting with those who have passed before him: his parents, his brothers James "Smitty" Smith and Carl "Buddy" Smith, his sister Wanda Vick, his infant son Tommy Mack, and many dear friends and loved ones. Dan is survived by his wife Jo; his daughter Angela Ganter and granddaughter Jackie; and his son Joe Bob Smith and wife Jessica and grandson Jackson; along with his beloved extended family.

Always a man of faith, Dan remained a member of First Baptist Church Abilene for nearly 70 years. He spent 17 of those years running the television camera for the Sunday morning broadcast and spreading the Lord's Word. Now Dan, the eternal storyteller, is no doubt amusing the Lord with his own tales. His family and friends suspect that even the Lord hasn't caught a bigger fish.


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Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

12:30 - 1:00 pm (Central time)

The Hamil Family Funeral Home

6449 Buffalo Gap Road, Abilene, TX 79606

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Central time)

The Hamil Family Funeral Home

6449 Buffalo Gap Road, Abilene, TX 79606

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Burial

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

2:00 - 2:30 pm (Central time)

Elmwood Memorial Park

5750 US-277, Abilene, TX 79606

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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