Smith, Frank Chesley (1892–1971)

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: May 8, 2019

Frank Chesley Smith, business executive and civic leader in Houston, was born on September 9, 1892, in Hickman, Kentucky, the son of Chesley Chambers and Frances (Duncan) Smith. He attended Vanderbilt University from 1911 to 1915 and served in the United States Army during World War I. He was subsequently involved in the real estate, mortgage, and banking business until 1933, when he became president of the Houston Natural Gas Corporation; he served as president until 1955, then as chairman of the board of directors. Smith was also a director of the Coleman Company in Wichita, Kansas. He was one of the organizers of a research institute for the gas industry in 1939–40. He served as president of the Southern Gas Association in 1943 and president of the American Gas Association in 1953. He was chairman of the board of trustees of the Institute of Gas Technology in Chicago from 1941 to 1943 and again in 1956. He held positions with many educational institutions. He was a governor of the University of Houston, an advisory board member of Scott and White Memorial Hospital in Temple, chairman of the board of governors of Southwest Research Institute, and a director of the Texas College of Arts and Industries (now Texas A&I University) from 1939 to 1955 and chairman of its board from 1941 to 1952. During his association with Texas A&I, Smith introduced what was possibly the first course on gas technology in the United States; a fine arts center on the Texas A&I campus was named in his honor. He served as president of the Texas division of the American Cancer Society from 1946 to 1952 and as chairman of its board of directors from 1952 to 1955, when he became honorary chairman. He was a member of several civic, professional, and honorary organizations, including the Philosophical Society of Texas. Smith was married to Elizabeth Hail on October 26, 1920, and they had two children. He died on January 13, 1971, in Houston and was buried in Forest Park-Lawndale Cemetery in Houston.

Proceedings of the Philosophical Society of Texas, 1970. Who's Who in America, 1960–61.

  • Education
  • Board Members
  • Oil and Gas Industry
  • Business
Time Periods:
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • Great Depression
  • World War II
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Anonymous, “Smith, Frank Chesley,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 8, 2019

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