Walter and Mabel Smith Memorial Endowed Scholarship

Type: Endowed

Donor: Estate of Walter Joshua Smith

Established: 1981

Walter Joshua Smith was born on October 30, 1900 in Keith, Texas, the youngest of eight surviving children of Christopher Columbus Smith and Frances Texana Smith. The family lived on a 100-acre farm near the Navasota River until 1905, when they moved to Liberty County, Texas. The father died in 1906, when Walter was 5 years of age. In 1917 at age 16, Walter began working with the railroad in Sour Lake, TX. This was the beginning of a life-long fascination with and love for trains, railroads and locomotives.  By 1919 or 1920, Walter decided to return to school. He moved to Arkansas to attend John Brown College in Siloam Springs. Since he was mechanically-inclined, he did repair work on automobiles and other odd jobs to pay his way through college. After finishing high school work and one year of advanced studies at John Brown College, Walter returned to Texas for a visit with his family in Beaumont. While there, he suffered a severe case of typhoid fever and never returned to John Brown College. About 1926 or 1927 Walter decided to go to Chicago, IL to work for the Payne Electric Company. At a Chicago church social function, Walter met Mabel Jordan, a charming Irish girl from Belfast, Ireland, who was working in the office at the railroad terminal in Chicago. He asked Mabel to marry him and transfer to San Francisco so that Walter could take a position with the Addressograph Company. While there, Walter and a co-worker invented and perfected a special lens to be used in submarine periscopes.

In 1962, the Smiths retired and moved to Oregon City, Oregon. Mabel died there in 1976. She had been a wonderful homemaker and a faithful, loving and supportive companion for 35 years. Walter adored her. They were devout and active Christians, working together in their Presbyterian Church community. In 1979, he moved to Austin, TX to be with friends and family. After a 7-month bout with cancer, Walter died on September 4, 1980.

Walter Smith was always very self-disciplined, hard-working and conscientious. His dress and manners were impeccable, his ideals and hopes were of the highest, and his love of God and man was always manifested in his daily life. He was a gentle, kindly, considerate, charitable and caring man – respected and loved by all who came in contact with him. He never forgot, nor ceased to appreciate, the opportunities afforded him at John Brown (College) University; and in making his will, he chose to leave the bulk of his estate to JBU, so that needy and deserving students are able to obtain a Christian education.