This story is about one of my mentors I truly admired growing up in the ’40s and 50s in Pampa, Texas. If you were around at that time in history, then you know who I’m talking about. All I have to do is mention “shoe store on Main Street” and a piece of furniture that you stuck your foot in, and you saw a green x-ray of your foot! Yep, you guessed the only Mr. Frank Smith who owned “Smith’s Quality Shoes.”
Yes Sir, if there ever was a man who fit the word…gentleman, Mr. Smith was that person. If I were anywhere around him, I would study him about his mannerisms, friendly disposition, gentleness, laugh, and the way he treated all of the people he was around. Frank was always well-grounded, whether in church or at a picnic. He fit the part.
I even noticed that he liked a bowtie and looked good in it. He was just a nice, polite man of integrity.
Mr. Smith’s sons, Duggan and David, and I went to school together. Thanks to Duggan and his daughter, I can share with you an exciting life of Frank Smith. He was born in the Indian Territory of Oklahoma before it became a state in November 1907. The Smith family managed a ranch with 600 head of sheep. During WWI, he worked 1800 head of stock at the age of nine! He graduated as president of his class and was also valedictorian. He went two years to OU and two years at law school. Then he went to work with the CR Anthony Department Store to help the family and support two sisters through college.
While working for Anthony’s in Oklahoma City, in 1934, he met and married Mildred Frost one year later. Frank was soon promoted to manager over the stores in Hutchinson, Kansas. In 1938, he heard about the Jones/Roberts shoe store for sale in Pampa, Texas. He first bought an interest in the store and resigned from his job with Anthony’s.
Duggan was six years old at that time.
Frank moved his family to Pampa and later bought out the other partners. At that time, he changed the name to Smith’s Quality Shoes. He ran the store except for two years during WWII, and he was with the Army’s 39th Engineering Depot. Their job was to purchase all supplies for the army divisions in Europe. He returned home after the war and continued as CEO of his store until 1971, when they sold it after 33 years.
Frank and Mildred Smith were very busy in the civic life of Pampa before and after the war. There are too many accomplishments to name them all, but here are some so that you will get my point. Board of Directors/Red Cross; Outstanding Boss 1965; President of Chamber of Commerce; President of Lions Club; Superintendent of Sunday School at First Presbyterian Church; Board President of PISD; Sustaining member of Adobe Walls Council, Boy Scouts of America; and a member of the Police Officers Association.
Upon retirement, they moved to Lake Tanglewood just outside Amarillo, where he enjoyed playing golf. Unfortunately, he passed away in August 1984.
Mr. Frank Smith was an example, a model for all to admire, to both adults and young people growing up in the “Mayberry of the Texas Panhandle.”
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