State Bar of Texas past President Cullen Smith Jr., 96, died April 16, 2022. He served as president of the State Bar of Texas from 1978 to 1979.
After graduating high school in 1943, Smith served in the U.S. Marine Corps until 1946. A native of Waco, he received his law degree from Baylor University and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1950. Smith then practiced law in Welasco from 1950 to 1953, before returning to his hometown and joining the law firm of Naman, Howell, Smith, Lee & Muldrow. He first served as managing partner, president, chairman, head of the trial section, and was counsel to the firm until his death. Smith was also a Waco City Council member from 1983 to 1985.
As president of the State Bar, Smith helped secure reenactment of the State Bar Act as part of the Sunset review process, as well as a Supreme Court order integrating the bar under the court’s inherent power. The new act clarified the State Bar’s purposes, strengthened grievances, and added public members. Smith’s presidency also saw greater involvement from women and minority lawyers, the creation of a Law Student Division, and an active program of Citizens Legal Education.
He was a member of the Episcopal Church, Rotary Club, Philosophers Club, and Ridgewood Country Club. Smith was president of the Waco-McLennan County Bar in 1956-1957 and president of the Junior Bar (now the Texas Young Lawyers Association) in 1957-1958. He sat on the State Bar Board of Directors (1971-1974), was chair of the Texas Bar Foundation (1973-1974), and was chair of the Special Committee on Revision of Canons of Ethics (1969-1971). Smith was a fellow of the Texas and American Bar Foundations and a state chair of the latter in 1978-1981. He was a member of the American Bar Association, serving on the House of Delegates, the Action Commission to Reduce Court Costs and Delay, and the Committee on Complex and Multi-District Litigation. Smith was also a nonresident member of the Dallas Bar and an honorary member of the Montana Bar.
He was known for his involvement in many community causes. During the early 1960s, Smith worked with Waco leaders to desegregate public facilities in the city. A decade later, he led a delegation from Waco to meet with North Vietnamese leaders in Paris, France, to reconsider their treatment of American prisoners of war, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald.
Smith is survived by his wife of 13 years, Ann Brown Parson; daughters, Sallie Chestnutt Smith, Alethea Risher Smith, and Elizabeth Brient Smith; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.