Estus Smith, Ph.D.
The Life and Legacy of Estus Smith, Ph.D.
October 13, 1930 - May 30, 2020
In the years that Estus Smith lived, studied, and worked among you in this community, you had many opportunities to observe his fine qualities and to be inspired by his example. You knew him as a friend, an administrator, educator, scholar, banker, consultant, civic leader, leader in the Episcopal Church, musician, and athlete.
Estus was born in 1930 in Crystal Springs, Mississippi, the second son of Reverend D.D. Smith and Margaret (nee Granison) Smith. In 1953, he married the former Dorothy Triplett of Meridian, Mississippi, an alumna of Jackson State University, and they have one son, Donald Gregory. Following her death, Estus married Dr. Emma Brooks.
He attended elementary and secondary schools in Brookhaven, Mississippi. Estus played sports (with letters in varsity football and basketball) and was a member of the band at Alexander High School. He recalled being recruited by legendary Grambling Head Football Coach Eddie Robinson. Notwithstanding his mother's heartfelt desire that he matriculate at her beloved Alcorn College (Lorman, Mississippi), he was determined to attend college at Alcorn's bitter rival: Jackson State College.
At Jackson State, Estus earned the Bachelor of Science in Music with a minor in Social Science; was a member of the marching band; represented Jackson State on the intercollegiate football and basketball teams; and pledged Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
For two years, he served in the 327 United States Army Band stationed at Edgewood, Maryland.
Estus earned his Master of Music Education from Indiana University (Bloomington); pursued additional study at the Vandercook College of Music (Chicago, Illinois) and the Eastman School of Music (Rochester, New York); and earned his Ph.D. in Music from the University of Iowa (Iowa City).
He served as Director of Bands and Instructor of Social Studies at Mickens High School (Dade City, Florida); Burgland High School (McComb, Mississippi); and Brinkley High School (Jackson, Mississippi).
Estus served Jackson State with increasing levels of responsibility over a twenty-two-year period, including as an Instructor of Music and Professor of Music (1962-68); Dean of the School of Liberal Studies (1968-72); and Vice President for Academic Affairs (1972-June 1984).
He worked closely with Jackson State's President Dr. John A. Peoples to build a strong comprehensive university. In his capacity as Dean of the School of Liberal Studies, he initiated programs in mass communication, police science, computer science, criminal justice, social work, and urban affairs—while strengthening traditional areas of history, sociology, music, chemistry, biology, and mathematics. During Estus' tenure as Vice President for Academic Affairs, programs in industrial technology, business, management, marketing, business administration, accounting, graduate studies, and special programs for adults were expanded. Jackson State also acquired national accreditation for industrial technology, chemistry, rehabilitation counseling, education, music, art, and social work.
From 1974-80, Estus served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of State Mutual Federal Savings and Loan Association (Jackson, Mississippi). Under his administration, State Mutual became the largest Black-operated financial institution in Mississippi, and among the top 50 Black-owned institutions in the United States.
Following his tenure with Jackson State, he joined the Kettering Foundation (Dayton, Ohio) in 1984 as a Program Officer, and rose to become its Chief Operating Officer. The Foundation offered him an opportunity to grow and expand the reach of his influence—touching people throughout the United States and many other nations with the constructive message of accepting personal responsibility to identify and solve problems in their communities at the grass roots, and helping them to develop the tools to make healthy democratic institutions a reality.
One of his endeavors was to provide educational opportunities for school children in Dayton, Ohio. Estus was very excited to help establish a sure foundation for so many young people who lack access to a quality education, which continues his family's long devotion to educating young people. He and his wife Dorothy also established scholarships for Dayton-area youth to matriculate at Jackson State.
Estus was an active member of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, where he served two three-year terms as Warden, and has served on various church committees. He later moved his membership to St. Christopher's Episcopal Church of the Ascension, where he was serving on the Mission Committee until his passing. He also served as a member of Diocesan Executive Committee for the State of Mississippi; Member of the Board of All Saints School (Vicksburg, Mississippi); and the Bicentennial Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi.
His published scholarship included "Education," The People of the South (Nashville, Tennessee), pp. 80-96 (1976); "Humanities and the World of Work," Mississippi Committee for the Humanities Annual Report (1983); A Critical Study of Mississippi Public Junior Colleges (1970); "The Impact of the Civil Rights Movement on the Historical Black College," (Dayton, Ohio) (1984); and "The Public Takes Hold," The Kettering Review (Fall 1985).
Estus was a founding member of the Mississippi Committee for the Humanities, where he was Chairman for six years.
Estus also served as Treasurer of the Mississippi Inter-Collegiate Opera Guild, Inc. (OPERA/SOUTH), which was founded in 1970 by Jackson State University, Utica Junior College, and Tougaloo College. OPERA/SOUTH's productions included A Bayou Legend by William Grant Still and Jubilee, based on Dr. Margaret Walker Alexander's novel.
His other civic contributions included:
Advisory Committee of the Academic Administration Internship Program and the Commission of Leadership Development in Higher Education of the American Council on Higher Education; Executive Board, Andrew Jackson Council, Boy Scouts of America; Member, Program Review Committee, Office of Nuclear Waste Isolation at Battelle Laboratory (Columbus, Ohio); Reader, Danforth Foundation; Vice President, Davis Planetarium Foundation Board; Board of Directors, Dayton Education Foundation; Board of Directors, Friends of the Arts (Mississippi); Chair, Hinds County Youth Court (Jackson, Mississippi); Board Member, Jackson Symphony Association; Metropolitan Boys Club; Board of Trustees, Mississippi Department of Archives and History (1976-86); Statewide Judge, Mississippi Economic Council, Leadership Mississippi (1980-84); Board Member, Mississippians for Educational Television (state-wide) (1971-84); Board of Governors, The Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters;
Member, Commission on Accreditation, Mississippi State Department of Education; Member, National Association for Humanities in Education (1980-83); Reader, National Endowment for the Humanities; Optimist Club; Appointed by then-Governor William Winter to the Performance Based Education Commission; Member, Southern Association of Schools and Colleges (including several Self-Study Evaluation teams); President, Southern Conference of Deans of Faculties and Academic Vice Presidents (Atlanta, Georgia); Member, Task Force on Neighborhood Security, City of Dayton (Ohio); Chair, Task Force on Quality of Life, Jackson Chamber of Commerce (Mississippi); Member, University of Mississippi Engineering School Board of Advisors (1978-85); and Board of Directors, Voluntary Action Center of United Way (Dayton, Ohio).
Over the years, many professional and civic authorities have honored Estus, including: Fellow, American Council on Education (1968-69); Outstanding Alumnus: Teacher-Scholar (1970); Who's Who in American Education (1970); Outstanding Educators of America (1972); Personalities of the South (1973); Testimonial Dinner (1973) sponsored by Jackson State; Chairman, Inaugural Ceremony for the Honorable Governor William F. Winter, State of Mississippi (1980); Jackson State University Sports Hall of Fame in Football and Basketball (1980); and House Concurrent Resolution No. 2, a Concurrent Resolution commending Dr. Estus Smith upon his winning an award for Distinguished Service from the National Governors' Association (1981), the first time a Mississippian received this national award.
In addition to his membership in Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Estus' social and civic memberships included: Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity; Phi Delta Kappa Fraternity; Beta Beta Beta Fraternity; Phi Kappa Phi Fraternity; Alpha Lambda Delta; Tau Beta Sigma (Honorary); and Kappa Psi Fraternity. He held Life Memberships in the Alumni Associations of Jackson State University, Indiana University, and University of Iowa, respectively.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Rev. David D. Smith, and Ms. Margaret Granison Thompson, his first wife, Dorothy Triplett Smith, brother, Charles Herman Smith (Carroll).
Estus leaves to remember and celebrate his wonderful life, his wife Dr. Emma Brooks Smith; his son, Donald Gregory Smith; his stepson, Dr. Thomas St Clair Williams, Sr.; six sisters: Alice Smith (Royce), Dr. Ruthie Stevenson, Ida Holloway, Francine Thomas (Matthew), Marie Smith and Lynn Seals (Leon); one brother: Napoleon Smith (Linda); his stepmother, Pinkie Smith Amos; Sisters-in-law, Lena Thomas Smith, Antionetta Brooks; three brothers-in-law, John Brooks (Carman), Elbert, and Jasper (Rhonda); nieces, Felicia Smith and Charlotte Smith Johnson (Jared) one granddaughter, Nichole Matthew; two step-grandchildren; Thomas St Clair Williams, Jr. and Hannah St. Clair Williams; three great-grandchildren; Kiara Matthews, Kedrian Odom and Nicarayah Matthew; one great-great grandson; Jacob Matthews; a special Godchild, Natalie Davis Winkfield and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and a multitude of friends .
Due to the Coronavirus, a Celebration of Life Services will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to St. Christopher's Episcopal Church of the Ascension-Building Fund (643 Beasley Road, Jackson, MS 39206).
Published in Clarion Ledger from Jun. 15 to Jun. 21, 2020.