Long-time Athens surgeon, Dr. Joe Ed Smith, died on August 7, 2017 at his home in Athens at the age of 84 years. Dr. Smith was the first medical specialist to open a practice in Henderson County in 1965.
During his 36 years in private practice in Athens, Dr. Smith was instrumental in helping Athens become a first-class medical center in East Texas. He was heavily involved in the recruitment of many physicians to Henderson County and integral in bringing East Texas Medical Center as well as the construction of the new hospital to Athens in the 1980s. He previously served on the Henderson County Memorial Hospital Board of Managers and the Lakeland Hospital Board, as prior president and member of the Henderson County Medical Society, and at the time of his death, was the current president of the Henderson County Hospital Authority. He also served on multiple occasions as Chief of Staff and Chief of Surgery for both Henderson County Memorial Hospital and Lakeland Medical Center. Dr. Smith was named the 1998 Citizen of the Year by the Athens Chamber of Commerce. He was extensively involved in the community as past president of the Athens Industrial Foundation, past president and member of the Athens Rotary Club, past president and a founding board member of the Disciples Clinic of Athens, and as an elder and long- time member of the First Presbyterian Church of Athens. He also served as board member of the First National Bank of Athens, First State Bank of Eustace, school board president of the Athens Independent School District, member of the East Texas Medical Center Foundation Board, and advisory board for the Circle Ten Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
Professional affiliations included being a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, Fellow of the Southwest Surgical Congress, Fellow of the American Society of Abdominal Surgeons, as well as membership to the American Medical Association and Texas Medical Association.
Born and raised in Eustace, Dr. Smith obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from East Texas State University. He served in the Air Force following the Korean War. He then attended medical school at UT Southwestern Medical School before returning to Henderson County in 1965 with his wife, Mary Lynn, and their three sons.
After his retirement from private practice in 2001, Joe Ed was deeply involved in the ministries of the Disciples Clinic and the First Presbyterian Church. He will be remembered for his love of gardening, ranching, and devotion to his wife and family, including his dog, Libby.
He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Mary Lynn Smith, son Mark and wife Sherry Smith of Eustace, son Steven and wife Laurel Smith of Dallas, and son David and wife Susan Smith of Dallas. He was also the proud grandfather of eight grandchildren—William, Matthew, Tyler, Lauren, Logan, Rebecca, Katelyn and Luke.
Joe Ed will always be cherished by his family and friends for his love, humor, support and service. His faith in God, character and actions will forever be an encouraging legacy for his family. He was a true gentleman to the very end.
There will be memorial service on Saturday, August 12, at 1 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Athens. The Reverends Charlie M. Hornes, Lynnette Solomon, and Woody Meredith will be presiding. A reception will follow at the Athens Country Club located at 500 Park Drive in Athens. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to First Presbyterian Church of Athens.