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John "John R." Smith '64 September 15, 2023 11:57 AM updated: September 25, 2023 11:15 AM

John Robert "John R." Smith 

November 16, 1941 - September 14, 2023 

John Robert Smith, 81, passed away on September 14, 2023, at his home in Lampasas, Texas. He was born on November 16, 1941, in Corsicana, Texas to William Hamon Smith and Margaret Alice (Edwards) Smith.

A memorial service will be held at First Baptist Church Lampasas on Saturday, October 14, 2023, at 11:00 AM. A private burial was held at Pattison Cemetery, Emhouse, Texas.

John grew up in Corsicana, Texas as one of seven children. He graduated from Corsicana High School in 1960. After high school he attended Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas where he received a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering in 1964 (Whoop!).

Following graduation, John began work for General Dynamics through 1966. In 1966, he went to work for NASA for 33 years and retired in 1999. During his time at NASA, John completed U.S. Naval SCUBA Diving School in order to train astronauts to be sent into space. He managed the building that housed the Space Shuttle & Space Station Training Facilities and Water Immersion Facility at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. He also designed the Rocket-Cleaning Room for NASA at White Sands, New Mexico. During his time at NASA, he met several dignitaries including Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip while they were on a state visit.

John married his high school sweetheart Judy O'Neal in 1963 in their hometown of Corsicana, Texas. They just celebrated 60 years of marriage this past August 18, 2023. Upon retirement from NASA in 1999, John and Judy left the Gulf Coast and hurricanes for the drier climes of Lampasas, Texas. They have been active members at First Baptist Church Lampasas and School Creek Baptist Church. John was a member of Texas A&M Alumni Association, the USGA and the Singing Men of Texas - North Central Chapter. He loved singing praise to His Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and served as interim Music Minister at various churches in Texas and New Mexico. John served as deacon, Sunday School teacher and on various building and personnel committees at several Baptist churches. John thoroughly enjoyed playing golf, dominoes and traveling to research his family roots. An avid reader, he was fascinated with history of the Old West and was a member of the National Outlaw & Lawman Association and the Wild West History Association.

Whether it was employment, service or recreation, John considered everything the Lord entrusted him to do or people to meet as a gift and privilege in this earthly life.

John was preceded in death by both parents, Bill and Margaret Smith, brothers, Charles Arthur, William Frederick and Joseph Ewing and sister, Louise Smith Bunch.

John is survived by his spouse Judy of Lampasas, Texas; his son, Christopher John (Margaret) Smith of Forest, Virginia; his daughter, Molly O'Neal (John) Johnson of Copperas Cove, Texas; his sisters, Margaret (Bill) Robinson of Sunrise Beach, Texas, and Jane (John) Dale of Brenham, Texas, as well as numerous beloved nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made to Texas Baptist Men, Inc., 5351 Catron Dr., Dallas, TX, 75227-9806 or The Singing Men of Texas - North Central Chapter at 


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