Smith, William Robert, Jr. (1900–1986)

By: Walter Dibrell

Type: Biography

Published: June 1, 1995

Updated: March 19, 2019

William Robert (Bob) Smith, Jr., lawyer and member of the Texas legislature, son of Frances (Breedlove) and William Robert Smith, was born at Colorado City, Texas, on December 23, 1900. He earned a B.A. from Austin College, where he lettered in three major sports in 1921 and was recommended for a Rhodes scholarship. He enrolled in law school at the University of Texas later that year, graduated in 1924, and opened a law office in El Paso. In 1926 he was elected to the state House of Representatives, where he supported legislation that enlarged the College of Mines and Metallurgy (now the University of Texas at El Paso). Before his legislative term expired, Smith moved to Odessa, where early in 1929 he married Anna Love of Jacksonville, Texas. The couple had two children. In June 1929 Governor Daniel J. Moody appointed Smith district attorney for the Seventieth Judicial District. He served four years and moved to San Antonio in 1933, when President Franklin Roosevelt appointed him United States attorney for the Western District of Texas. He held office for eight years before World War II and two years afterward. Among his more notable prosecutions was the tax-evasion case against George B. Parr, which put the second-generation "Duke of Duval" in the penitentiary.

Smith was a commissioned officer on active duty in the navy from April 1941 to near the end of World War II. He served first as chief of naval intelligence in the Eighth Naval District at New Orleans; later, in Washington, D.C., he took charge of the effort to locate and prosecute draft evaders. He was officially commended by J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, for his work in enforcing the selective-service laws. After the war Smith was offered appointments as chief trial attorney for the Federal Reserve System and as assistant United States attorney general. He declined both since he preferred to live in San Antonio rather than in Washington, and thus returned to his position as United States attorney for the Western District. He resigned this post in 1946 and spent the rest of his life in San Antonio, where he practiced law. He served on the board of regents of Lamar State College of Technology (now Lamar University) for eight years, including three as chairman. He was for nineteen years (1956–75) a member of the Texas Board of Law Examiners. In 1948 he served as a federal court master in chancery in the vote-fraud lawsuit that former governor Coke Stevenson brought against his rival for the United States Senate, Lyndon B. Johnson. Smith, a Democrat and a Baptist, died at San Antonio on May 13, 1986, and was buried at Mission Burial Park, South.

Who's Who in America, 1946–47. San Antonio Light, May 14, 1986.

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

Walter Dibrell, “Smith, William Robert, Jr.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 27, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995
March 19, 2019