William Reece Smith Jr., an iconic Tampa lawyer known for his work inside and outside the courtroom, died Friday morning. He was 88.
Smith, a Plant City native who never forgot his hometown roots, had a résumé like few others: Rhodes Scholar, former American Bar Association president, one time interim president of the University of South Florida and early crusader for civil rights.
He joined the Tampa law firm Carlton Fields in 1953 and helped build it into one of the largest in the state, with 300 lawyers. He was the 112-year-old firm's president emeritus at the time of his death.
Smith graduated from Plant City High School in 1943, then joined the Navy. He went to the University of South Carolina, where was in the ROTC and played quarterback for the first Gator Bowl football game. He attended and graduated from the University of Florida's College of Law.
Published in the Tampa Bay Times on Jan. 12, 2013