Dr. C. J. and Willa Dean Smith of Denison celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary with a family dinner on Feb. 23 at the home of one of their granddaughters. Hostesses were the Smith’s granddaughters, Mindi McGehee and Allison Britton.
The Smiths were married on Feb. 23, 1943 in Ardmore, Oklahoma.
Willa Dean Smith was born in Corsicana, the daughter of Clyde and Lucille (Tudor) Willis. She graduated from Centrahoma High School in Centrahoma, Oklahoma and from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in 1970. She taught history at Pottsboro Middle School from 1970 until her retirement in 1986. For many years, she sponsored trips to Washington, D.C. for her students and shared her love of history with her children and grandchildren. She also worked as a volunteer at the Lakeway Methodist Church Resale Barn in Pottsboro.
C.J. Smith was born in Hobart, Oklahoma, the son of Cyrus William and Nina Bell (Parsons) Smith. He graduated from Centrahoma High School and served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, flying bombing missions in the South Pacific. After the war, he continued his education, earning a bachelor’s degree from East Central University, a master’s degree from the the University of Oklahoma and a doctorate from Oklahoma State University. He was a teacher, coach and principal in St. Louis, Oklahoma, Maud, Oklahoma and Earlsboro, Oklahoma. He was the student personnel director at OSU while completing his doctorate and served as the assistant superintendent of Ardmore, Oklahoma schools before coming to Grayson College in 1969 as an instructor and director of the liberal arts division. He then served as vice president and dean of Grayson College until his retirement in 1986. He still enjoys driving his tractor and being outdoors and is interested in antiques, especially clocks which he repaired and/or rebuilt.
After retirement, the Smiths traveled extensively in the United States and abroad. They are members of Lakeway Methodist Church in Pottsboro.
The Smiths are the parents of four children, Jimmy Keith Smith of Lubbock, Billy Clyde Smith and Jackie Dean Smith, both of Denison, and the late Priscilla Denise Smith Vandygriff. They have four grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, five step-grandchildren and six step-great-grandchildren.