A. Frank Smith, Methodist Church leader, the son of William Angie and Mary Elizabeth (Marrs) Smith, was born in Elgin, Texas, on November 1, 1889. After receiving a B.A. degree from Southwestern University in 1912, he attended the divinity school of Vanderbilt University from 1912 to 1914. Southwestern University granted him two honorary degrees, the D.D. in 1923 and the LL.D. in 1940. As a Methodist minister, Smith joined the North Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in 1914. He was ordained a deacon by Bishop James H. McCoy in 1915 and an elder by Bishop W. N. Ainsworth in 1918. His early appointments included Alto (1914), Detroit (1914–15), and Forest Avenue, Dallas (1915–16). In 1916 he organized a church on the campus of Southern Methodist University that later became Highland Park Methodist Church. He was appointed to University Methodist Church in Austin in 1916, to Laurel Heights in San Antonio in 1918, and to First Methodist Church, Houston, in 1922. The Texas Conference elected him a delegate to the General Conference in 1926 and in 1930. Smith was elected a bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in 1930 and assigned to preside over annual conferences in Missouri and Oklahoma-including the Oklahoma Indian Mission, which he held for fourteen years. From 1934 until his retirement in 1960, he was the resident bishop of the Houston area, which included five conferences-the Texas (1934–60), the Rio Grande (1938–60), the North Texas (1934–38), the Central Texas (1944–48), and the Southwest Texas (1938–60). During his years in Houston, Smith was an influential trustee of Methodist Hospital of Houston.
He was also a leader in the movement that reunited three branches of United States Methodism. Before the merger in 1939, he served on the joint commissions that produced a new hymnal and the plan of union and directed the churchwide Aldersgate Commemoration (1937–38). He was the first president of the Council of Bishops of the Methodist Church and served for twenty years as chairman of the Division of Home Missions and Church Extension. From 1938 to 1960 Smith was chairman of the board of trustees of Southern Methodist University. During this period, the university received substantial gifts from his close friends, and Smith provided crucial backing to President Willis M. Tate in defending academic freedom. Phi Beta Kappa elected Smith an honorary member in 1956 "in recognition and appreciation of his long and valued service to the cause of liberal education." He was also an active trustee of Southwestern University from 1933 to 1960 and played a key roll in obtaining gifts for the university's endowment. On June 16, 1914, Smith married Bess Patience Crutchfield. They had four children. After retiring in 1960, Smith served for two years on the administrative staff of Methodist Hospital of Houston. He died at his Kirby Drive home on October 5, 1962.