Robert (Bob) Smith walked peacefully into the hands of the Lord Friday, April 28, 2017. A man with a contagious smile, he was loved by all who knew him. He faithfully stood by his wife and best friend, Mahala Jane (Cline) Smith, for over 58 years. He and Mahala were blessed with two children, MeLisa Smith Morris (Tony Morris) and Eric Damon Smith (Audrey P. Schreiber), and six grandchildren, Anthony Lynn Morris Jr, MeLeah Elizabeth Morris, Cole Damon Smith, Sabrina Marie Smith, Lauren Elizabeth Smith, and Zachary Joseph Smith.
Robert was born in Todd County to Armelia Elizabeth Keel and Edward Draper Smith on September 12, 1932. He was joined by a sister, Peggy Moore (Dugan Moore). He attended Franklin-Simpson High School, where he met his sweetheart, Mahala Jane Cline. As a high school athlete, he played football. Following high school, he attended Western Kentucky University (WKU). After two years, he joined the Navy during the Korean War, where he trained as an aviator at Pensacola, FL and Corpus Christi, TX. He was also trained to be a combat information officer. After serving his country, he returned to Kentucky. There, he graduated from Western Kentucky University with BS degrees in agriculture and biology. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from WKU, he married Mahala and moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he earned a Master's degree in Wildlife Management from Louisiana State University.
Upon graduating from LSU, he and Mahala moved to Jackson, TN, where he began his career as a district biologist for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Then, he was promoted to Assistant Chief of the Wildlife Division in Nashville. In 1964, he became the first biologist ever to be assigned to a national recreation area to integrate wildlife management, forestry, recreation, and environmental education at Land Between the Lakes (LBL). At LBL, one of his greatest achievements was restoring the nesting habitats for the bald eagles and osprey in Kentucky and Tennessee. After retiring from LBL, he was selected by the University of Tennessee to be a wildlife biologist and forester for the Agricultural Extension Service. He also taught wildlife biology at Hopkinsville Community College and was a substitute teacher at Trigg County High School.
As an active member of Cadiz United Methodist Church, Robert served as the treasurer, Sunday school teacher, and a lay leader. He held offices in many community organizations, including the Cadiz Masonic Lodge, Cadiz Lions Club, Trigg County Riding Club, Trigg County Boosters Club, the Land Between the Lakes Association, and the TVA Retirees, the Trail of Tears Commission and served as trustee and chairman for the Coalition for Recognition of Descendants of Indigenous Woodlands Peoples. He was a member of Ducks Unlimited, the Wild Turkey Federation, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the National Wildlife Society, and the Society of American Foresters.
Visitation will be at Cadiz United Methodist Church, 482 Lakota Drive, Cadiz, on Friday, May 5, 2017, after 4:00 PM, with Masonic services to begin at 6:00 PM. The family will also receive friends beginning at 10:00 AM on Saturday, May 6, 2017, until the time of the funeral service at 11:00 AM, at Cadiz United Methodist Church, with Rev. Jamus Redd and Dr. Scott Wilson presiding. Full military honors will take place at the conclusion of the funeral service at the church. Interment will follow at 4:00 pm at Greenlawn Cemetery, 420 Cemetery Street in Franklin, Kentucky. In lieu of flowers the family requests you remember Robert with donations to Friends of Land Between the Lakes (friendsoflbl.org), Cadiz Lions Club, or Cadiz United Methodist Church.