Bobby Ray Smith was born on December 8, 1953, to Carrol and Ruth Smith in Corpus Christi, Texas. He was an only child. A sixth-generation Texan, his ancestors held four original land grants, written in Spanish, for the Republic of Texas. His great, great-grandfather was one of the original Texas Rangers, and his ancestors received land in Llano County for their service at The Battle of San Jacinto. He descended from a long line of ranchers in both Llano and Mason counties. This area was always the home of his heart.
His maternal grandparents served as missionaries in China for 12 years. This influence led him into a life of ministry. He attended Howard Payne University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. He then earned a Master of Divinity degree and a Doctorate of Ministry degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. Before beginning his chaplaincy ministry, he was a pastor at First Baptist Church of Mullin, First Baptist Church of Mont Belvieu, and First Baptist Church of Galveston. He then served as chaplain at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. In 2002, he became the founding director of Texas Baptists Chaplaincy Relations of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. This ministry endorses and trains chaplains worldwide in the areas of military, correctional, lifestyle, public safety, healthcare, marketplace, crisis response, and pastoral counseling. Since its creation, more than 1,125 chaplains have been endorsed. He was described as a “chaplain to the chaplains” by those in the ministry. In recent years, he served as an adjunct professor at Dallas Baptist University and an intentional interim minister to churches around the state of Texas.
He loved God first, family second, friends followed, and then work–these were all tied together with a passion. Bobby was a deer hunter, duck hunter, football player, Acquire player, cowboy, rodeo clown, surfer, avid lifelong UT football fan, and Air Force Academy football fan once his son played there. During his days at Howard Payne University, he met Vicky Williams in the band where he was a tuba player. He and Vicky married on March 6, 197, and enjoyed 46 years of marriage. The wonderful highlights of their marriage were the births of Laura Elizabeth and Nathan Ray, who always put the brightest sparkle in his eyes. He attended all of their important events, including field trips, sporting events, ceremonies, and graduations. Their friends always looked up to him as a mentor, as well. Another highlight was when Sarah Andrews married his son and became a part of the family. He also loved spending time with his granddogs Skylar, Graham, and Luna.
He showed us how to live a life of service, devotion, and dedication. Bobby was involved in many community service organizations. These included being the president of both the Galveston Rotary Club and Galveston United Way. He served on the board of the Bay Area Women’s Shelter and the Galveston Women’s Shelter. He was Chairman of the 100th Anniversary of the 1900 Galveston Hurricane. Bobby was a trustee at Howard Payne University and served on the Executive Board of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Two sources of great pride included being the first person to raise over a million dollars for the Galveston United Way and being the Chaplain of the Day at both the Texas House of Representatives and then again for the Texas Senate. His family always joked that if there was a committee meeting going on, then Bobby was in attendance.
Bobby was a forever pastor. His church had no walls, and his congregation was everyone he met. And no one was ever dropped or forgotten. While Jesus tended to his flock of sheep, Bobby said he tended to his “herd .”He traveled around in his prized old, brown Chevy pickup with his worn, brown Bible ministering to everyone. This included performing hundreds of weddings and funerals for members of his “herd .”Bobby was brilliantly real, and he kept his integrity throughout his life. Apart from Bobby’s lifelong service in his ministry, he was known for his down-home and gentlemanly nature in all of his encounters with people. He was everyone’s friend and so easy to love.
Bobby requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Baptists Chaplaincy Relations at The Bobby and Vicky Smith Endowment Fund. These funds will be used to sustain the ministry that Bobby started in 2002.