Lawrence C. “Larry” Smith of Houston passed away peacefully March 25, 2023, after a fall at his home a week earlier. He was born to Roger C. and Mildred M. Smith in Omaha, Nebraska on December 17, 1939.
After childhood years in Little Sioux and Harlan, Iowa, where his father was a high-school teacher, he moved to western Nebraska and later Ogallala where his mother and father purchased the beginnings of the family wheat farm near Grant, Nebraska.
Lawrence grew up on the family truck garden near Ogallala, driving his father’s tractors on the farm and helping to plant, weed, and irrigate onions, carrots, beans, sweet corn, potatoes and more as well as serve customers. He was a drummer in the Ogallala High School band, sang in the glee club and chorus, organized the science club, taught Bible classes at church, and graduated in 1958 as class valedictorian and won the award as the outstanding all-around student.
Summers during his college years, he worked locally in construction and farming. He graduated from the University of Nebraska earning a BS with distinction in 1962 and a MS in 1963 in chemical engineering. He was a member of the Cornhusker Marching and Collegiate bands, was a student member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and was elected to the engineering (Sigma Tau), mathematics (Pi Mu Epsilon), science (Sigma Xi), and band (Gamma Lambda) honoraries. In graduate school he was the person on campus who took calls all hours of the day and night keeping the University’s then-rudimentary mainframe computer running. With a professor of mathematics, he published an article in a mathematics journal with refinements for completing the squares for statistical purposes.
In 1963, he began his 50-plus-year, full-time career with DuPont. In his first assignment he was instrumental in developing and marketing a new, safer, high-impact auto windshield that has been standard equipment ever since. He rose rapidly in the company holding various technical, research, and managerial positions including responsibility for the design and construction of a plant for an entirely new DuPont product.
In 1964, he married Karen K. Dresslar of Ogallala where they returned for fall vacations when Lawrence helped his father plant wheat and joined as time allowed the Nebraska Alumni Band at a football game in Lincoln. When Lawrence’s father died in 1995, Lawrence added managing the Smith family farm to managing his own farmland. In 2004, Karen died suddenly after nearly forty years together.
In 1990 the company sent Lawrence to Houston to solve an intractable problem in windshields which he successfully accomplished. In May 2014 Lawrence retired from DuPont due to the Kuraray buyout and started work at Kuraray America the next day. He reported that his supervisor requested a meeting with him each year at which he expected he would at last be asked to retire. Instead, he was asked if he could continue another year. His supervisor reported that Lawrence was the first person new engineers at the plant met with because Lawrence knew the entire history of the plant and every process and detail about managing and repairing the technical equipment involved. Lawrence loved his work there, and an administrator reported that they loved him, and being a man of strong faith and active in his church, Lawrence kept his life full with choir, organizing Sunday greeters, and weekly Bible study until bilateral hip fractures in 2021 forced his retirement early in 2022.
Lawrence was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Karen, his brother Dr. Richard Smith, and his nephew Paul Smith.
He is survived by his siblings Dr. Charles Smith (Patricia) of Fort Collins, Colorado; Marilyn Lehenbauer (Ronald) of Flushing, New York; and Luanne Van Petten (William) of Dallas; his sister-in-law Ann Smith of Walnut Creek, California; three nephews David Smith (Mary Nguyen), Gregory Lehenbauer and Daniel Lehenbauer; two nieces Kristen Lehenbauer Lamparter (Jason) and Caitlyn Smith Franklin (Brandon), and two grand-nephews (Nathan Lamparter and Bryson Lamparter); Lisa Judy Smith and son Wade Judy (Abigail); as well as numerous other relatives and friends.
Services will be held on Friday, March 31, 2023, at 10:00 AM CST at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church,18220 Upper Bay Road in Houston, Texas, with visitation at 9:00 AM prior to the service. The service will be live streamed. To view, click the link www.gdlc.org
In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to Gloria Dei Lutheran Church Foundation Fund, 18220 Upper Bay Road, Houston, TX 77058 or St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 312 W. 3rd Street, Ogallala, NE 69153 or the Ogallala Public Library, 610 W. A Street, Ogallala, NE 69153 or a charity of your choice.
He will be buried beside his wife Karen in the Ogallala Cemetery at a later date.
Condolences may be made to the Clearlake Crowder Funeral Home at www.crowderfuneralhome.com