ALBERT H. SMITH
1918 - 2014
Albert H. (Howard) Smith was born in Kingman, Arizona, October 16, 1918, to parents, John Hubert Smith and Minnie Meloy Smith. He passed away at home, peacefully on January 11, 2014.
Smith attended grade school in Kingman and graduated from Mohave County Union High School in 1936. He attended Arizona State Teachers College which is now known as Northern Arizona University at Flagstaff.
After college, Smith joined the Border Patrol, first serving on the Arizona border at Ehrenberg, in February, 1941. He then moved to the El Centro sector and was camped out in the desert on the job when he and his partner, Clancy Graham, heard over the short-wave radio that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. He stayed in the Valley until February, 1942, when he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He was sent to Perris Island, Camp LeJeune for Officer Candidate School and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant. He graduated from OCS, Quantico, Virginia, in June of 1942, and was sent to Camp Elliott in San Diego. He then shipped to the South Pacific in December 1943, where he was promoted to Captain. After the war was over in August 1945, he was sent to Tientsin (now Peking), China as a Naval Liaison Officer.
Smith returned to the United States on Christmas Eve, 1945. He married the former Clara Louise Essig, December 30, 1945, in Kingman, Arizona, and the newlywed couple returned to the Imperial Valley. After being honorably discharged into the Marine Corp Reserves, February 18, 1946, he returned to the EI Centro sector for the Border Patrol. He completed special training in Washington, D.C. He was later sent to Brawley.
The Border Patrol was located in the building on the corner of the Plaza and North 5th Street, but the building had become too small, so Al was placed in charge of building a new facility at 8th and J Streets. Today this location and building is the Senior Center. Later in his Border Patrol career he was an investigator and worked on the first alien smuggling case in Imperial Valley.
During these years, he never left his first love, cowboying, and worked with friends or whoever needed extra help. Smith left the Patrol in 1955 and after completing schooling for a Real Estate license, he went to work for Smith-Mitchell Real Estate. In 1968, he completed Real Estate Broker requirements and opened his own office located at the Planters Hotel. He was President of the Imperial Valley Board of Realtors in 1977. He was a State Director for the California Association of Realtors. He was affiliated with the Realtors Land Institute of the National Association of Realtors and was a Senior Appraiser of the American Association of Certified Appraisers. Until his death, he was a licensed Real Estate Broker.
Smith was a life member of the Elks and was a member of the 20-30 Club. He was elected a Brawley City Councilman but only served half of his term due to a conflict of business interest. He was elected to the Brawley Union High School Board of Trustees and served from 1967-75. With his friend Sherman Smith, he was a Commissioner of Players for the Brawley Little League and was instrumental in building Wiest Field.
Smith was innovative in the organization of the Imperial Valley Stockmen's Club and served as President for the first two years. In 1957, with friends, Ed Rutherford, Dick Smith, Louise Willey and other Brawley townspeople, staged the first Brawley Cattle Call Rodeo celebration, held at the high school football field. In 1958, Smith worked with farmers, doctors, lawyers, insurance agents, grocers, bankers and other civic minded businessmen along with a lot of friends and members of the Brawley community to build Cattle Call Park and Arena. From its small beginning, the Brawley Cattle Call Rodeo has grown into a nationally known annual event. Smith retired from the Rodeo Committee but checked on the grounds daily.
Smith and friends formed The Rustlers group in 1986. Composed of cattleman, ranchers and businessmen from the early years of Imperial Valley, they had a monthly luncheon to tell stories and visit about the past and sometimes the future of the Valley.
Smith was very knowledgeable in the history of the southwestern United States and had an extensive library of western history books. He enjoyed an annual trip to the retired Border Patrol Officers conventions in May of each year. In 1998, the Retired Order of Border Patrol Officers made him an Honorary Life member of that organization.
Smith was Chairman of the Cattlemen's Gallery committee at Pioneers Museum. The committee collected interviews and pictures of people involved in all aspects of the cattle industry over the years and produced a book titled Cattlemen of Imperial Valley.
The Imperial County Board of Supervisors honored him for county service in 1991. In 1993, the City of Brawley honored Smith with their "Branding Iron Award" for community service.
Smith is preceded in death by his wife of 65 years, Clara, his parents, Hubert and Minnie Smith, brothers Don and Lane Smith, brother-in-law, Harvey Walker and Robert J. Essig, sisters-in-law Dorothy, Nellie and Melba Smith.
He is survived by his children, Kathleen Smith, Teri (Roger) Smelser, Byron (Joanne) Smith and Richard (Pattie) Smith; grandchildren Derek (Kari) Smelser, Matt (Lisa) Smelser and Melissa Smith; and great-grandchildren, Paige, Anson and Rhett Smelser; sisters-in-law June Walker and Cynthia Essig, niece June Benson and nephews, Ben Smith, Dennis Walker and John (Teresa) Essig.
A special thank you to the wonderful ladies who made Daddy's life special: Joline Morgan, Norma Barros, Urinda Ayala, Arcelia Garcia and Esperanza Salazar. Also a thank you to Hospice of Imperial Valley and Dr. Lorenzo Suarez.
Graveside services will be held at Mountain View Cemetery, Kingman, Arizona, on January 18, 2014, at 1 p.m., Arizona time.