ROBERT LESTER SMITH
April 18, 1939--May 6, 2021
Robert Lester Smith, retired Army Master Sergeant, completed his tour of duty and made the glorious journey home to meet his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on May 6, 2021. He was born in Pawnee, Oklahoma on April 18, 1939, to Andy Krow Smith and May Pratt Smith.
Robert attended Pawnee Public Schools and Chilocco Indian School. He spent his youth playing, hunting and fishing with his brothers on the Pawnee countryside and listening to his grandmother Bertha BlackEagle Pratt sing peyote songs.
In June 1964, Robert met and married the love of his live, Barbara Jo Henson and they were together for 46 years until her death in October 2010. Robert and Barbara joyously welcomed Tony into their lives in 1972.
In 1957, Robert enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving in Vietnam with the 1st Aviation Brigade, Photo Intelligence. He received the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry Medal. Upon returning home from the war in 1962, Robert made the decision to continue serving his country and remained in the military after Vietnam for the next 25 years, retiring as a Master Sergeant in 1987. He was promoted regularly during his time in the Army due to his willingness to accept additional responsibilities. Robert received many accommodations while proudly serving his county.
While in the Army, Robert served as Chief, IN Processing in Fort Lewis, Washington, from 1983 through 1987, where he managed five sections in the Military Pay Branch and directed a workforce of 58 personnel engaged in determining a $170 million net annual payroll for 14,000 soldiers. He was appointed Deputy Finance Officer to train a mobile pay team and he oversaw the computer operations of the Joint Military Pay Automated Coding System (JACS).
From 1974 through 1982 he also served as a Weapons Platoon Sergeant, an Infantry Instructor in Baumholder, Germany and a U.S. Army Recruiter in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As a recruiter, he even recruited Barbara Jo as his secretary and she prepared mail packets for him.
Upon retirement from the military, Robert worked many years as a Revenue Officer III for the Internal Revenue Service in Denver, Colorado.
Robert had a passion to learn and his education included receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Cameron College, Lawton; a Management and Supervision Certificate, a Financial Management and Supervision Certificate from the U.S. Army, Fort Lewis, Washington; and a Corporation Tax and Auditing Certificate from Aurora Community College, Aurora, Colorado.
Robert enjoyed his time in the Army and his duties took him and his family to live in many places throughout the United States such as California, New York, Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Washington State, Kansas, Missouri, Maryland and in Tulsa and Lawton, Oklahoma. They also lived in Bernholder and Frankfort, Germany. The family also made time for traveling to different countries such as France, Mexico, Austria, Belgium, Japan and Luxembourg.
He enjoyed taking his family and friends out to ‘dine’ at various restaurants in Oklahoma, no matter the location, you were always treated to the best chicken fry, chili or burgers the state could offer. His sisters, Geraldine and Bert loved liver and onions and Robert knew just where to take them to get their favorite meal.
Uncle Bobby was an avid reader and kept up with all current events. Although he wasn’t a member, he had a high respect for the Native American Church and their work.
One of his favorite all-time events was going to the Chilocco reunions. He enjoyed the time he spent at the school and remembered all the friends he made while he was there. He looked forward to attending the reunions and visiting with old friends and meeting new ones.
Uncle Bobby was a humble and charitable man who found his most happiness in giving back to others. He was quiet in his generosity. There are many individuals, churches, tribal programs and civic organizations that received a ‘white envelope’ from him throughout his retirement years.
Robert was preceded in death by his parents; his loving wife, Barbara Jo Henson Smith; his brothers, Andy K. Smith, Jr. Hiram Randolph Smith and Harry Francis Smith; his sisters, Geraldine Howell, Bertha Harder and Marcella Lyons; nephews, Robert Michael Howell and Gerald Randolph (Pawnee) Smith.
Robert was a wonderful son, brother, husband, father, uncle, and upit to his family. He appreciated his Pawnee relatives and friends.
He is survived by his son, Tony Smith, Denver, Colorado; nephews and nieces, Tracy Lee (Ben) (Dianne) Smith, Pine Ridge, South Dakota; Jesse Howell, III, Gerald Dean Howell, Harold Gene (Charisma) Howell, Laura Melton, Pawnee; Lester Esau Howell, Skiatook; Marcia (Kurt) Kelley, Bartlesville; Margaret (Greg) Barnett, Lavon, Texas; Susan Stand, Miami; Gladys Lomayestewa, Arizona; and Irene Edwards, New Mexico.
Robert's and Barbara Jo’s final resting place will be at Arlington National Cemetery.
A Celebration of Life for Robert will be held on Friday, July 30, 2021, at 10:30 a.m. in the Roam Chief Event Center at the Pawnee Nation.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Pawnee Indian Veterans Organization or to the Pawnee Nation War Mothers.