NEA Legacy Portraits

Smithville Legacy Portrait Project Results!

Many thanks to the community members who participated in the nomination process and the survey to help identify the five Smithvillians who will have their portraits painted at the wastewater treatment tank on Gazley Street across from the Recreation Center.

These selections were based on: 1) The overall score of each person 2) The number of people who voted for each person, adding the #1 and #2 ranks together 3) The comments from the public about why they chose the person they chose

As one person put it: “Tough choice. All were outstanding and worthy of recognition.” Another said: “Too many outstanding candidates, practically a coin toss to choose #1”

For the people who are disappointed that their choices were not selected, please note that the Cultural District and the City of Smithville will use this information to look for other community projects that could memorialize the other people who were nominated (and potentially others through additional public surveys), and the entire list with additional nominees will be included on the City and Cultural District website, potentially also to be added to the Wikipedia entry about the City of Smithville.

NEA Legacy Portraits
National Endowment of the Arts

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit

James Culleton’s “Legacy Portraits” Mural recognizes:

Veteran: Skip Hyson
Score: 3.30 out of 4
Number of 1&2 Votes: 92
Examples of public comments:

  • I am aware of Skip Hyson many, many acts of service to the community. I believe a legacy should leave marked change in the community and I feel Skip Hyson fits the bill.
  • I chose “Skip” Hyson because he not only served his country but also contributed to this community in many different ways. He also helped at the Recycle Center. No job was too large, nor too small for “Skip” if it benefited his community.
  • Before he died, he and his wife donated their home to help preserve the history of Smithville, her residents and their many and varied contributions to the city and continued to give back to the city after they died so that future generations are able to know their history. That is a contribution that continues to give for many generations to come and one that none of the other veterans were able to give back to Smithville. The other veterans gave in other ways, but I think Skip’s contribution continues to give and recognizes other veterans as well.
  • Skip was an amazing man who lived a long successful life. He did so much for our community dedicating his time to help others and his little town.
  • Skip fought in 3 wars for the USA, then came home to support Smithville in many more ways.
  • Skip loved Smithville and he was extremely proud to have served his country.
  • His legacy through his support for and donations to the Smithville Historical Society.
  • Work upon returning to Smithville and donation of home for future generations to learn more about the history of Smithville

Educators: Tommye Dell Culberson
Score: 4.70 out of 6
Number of 1&2 Votes: 56
Examples of public comments:

  • Tommye Dell Culberson was my mother and I think she made the greatest positive impact on students than any other teacher in the Smithville ISD. When I was young I can remember my mother tutoring students at our dinner table after school. My mother always went above the call of duty as a teacher and to this day she is still praised by many of her former students.
  • Mrs. Culberson was an amazing educator. She taught math (geometry) and made it so much fun that even students who normally hadn’t the least interest in math…learned the concepts!
  • I had Mrs. Culberson as a teacher and she was a very caring, involved teacher always trying to help others out.
  • They were all equal in their focus on education, however volunteering to tutor children without pay shows a true love of children.
  • Tommye Dell Culberson was from Smithville and chose also to come back and make a difference in the community.
  • Tommye Dell Culberson was an educator at both Mary A. Brown and Smithville High School and I believe she had a much greater impact on all races of student than the other Educators.
  • LaFray Carter and Tommye Dell Culberson encouraged many students to strive and do the best they could in their lives when they had no one else encouraging them. They were very different women with the same goal: encouraging others to do their best!

Creative Community: Joel “Old Joe” Cole
Score: 2.24 out of 3
Number of 1&2 Votes: 78
Examples of public comments:

  • I have heard many wonderful stories about Joe Cole’s creativity – making furniture and especially writing “Old West” stories (inspired by his Smithville experiences) and ran a trading post with his own collected antiques.
  • Every place has a few colorful characters that make it unique. I appreciate that Cole was his own man and made it cool to be oneself.
  • Grew up knowing Joel Cole. Taught me to ride a horse. Amazing Texan. Quite a character. Great storytelling preserving local history and folklore.
  • Because he truly lived the “rough” life of the early days and always remembered his roots. As a child, you always heard about Joe Cole. I didn’t hear of the other candidates until I was an adult after moving back home.
  • I think that Joe adds a little nostalgia to this sections and because of the “character” he was known as.
  • I still have some of Joe Cole’s chairs in my home. A real character.
  • If you knew Joe Cole, he always had a story to tell. He was a sweet man, and I always loved to listen to him talk about the “Good Old Days”, and hunting.
  • A true character. His work with cemeteries was impactful.
  • Joe Cole was a character!
  • Historian and cemetery surveying and true Texan
  • Mr. Cole seems to be an interesting, country person.

Citizen of the Year/Recognized Citizen: Karen Bell
Score: 3.60 out of 5
Number of 1&2 Votes: 57
Examples of public comments:

  • Karen Bell worked ceaselessly for the town of Smithville. In particular, she drove the formation of the Smithville Public Library by convincing the Smithville Woman’s Club that our town needed a Library. Then she set the standard for the level of programs and resources at the Library, and also for the friendly attitudes still found at the Library today. The current Librarian is a magnificent Director also, but Karen was the “starter” for the Library’s successes.
  • Karen was always involved in everything, and knew everyone by name. She was such an asset to this community.
  • Karen did an excellent job of making people feel welcome at our library. Karen was a tireless worker on the Jamboree committee. No one deserved the Citizen of the Year award more.
  • That write up does not do Karen justice, she wrote numerous grants for the city and library, devoted her time a many organizations in this town and would give you the shirt off her back if she thought it would help you.
  • Karen was awesome and she ran the library. Librarians are the last vestige that there is any intelligent life left on earth.
  • I personally knew Ms. Bell and she was an amazing woman.
  • Recognizing the contribution of literacy in the community.

Community Leaders: Grover Shade
Score: 3.69 out of 5
Number of 1&2 Votes: 66
Examples of public comments

  • For his many contributions to the city and wouldn’t it be appropriate for his portrait to be on the waste disposal plant that was built during his tenure as mayor?
  • G.S. Shade. That he was elected Mayor and [managed the city] for 20 consecutive years tells us a lot about the confidence that citizens had in him. 20 years of service as Mayor is a record. No one else has come close. When presented with the opportunity to buy the local power and light company from a private company located in Houston he led the movement to do this and this gave the City another source of income. He also recognized that dumping sewage into the Colorado River could not continue so in the early 1950’s he convinced the City Council to issue bonds to build, at that time, a state of the art, disposal plant. Smithville was the first small town on the river to do this. He didn’t wait to be drafted in WW1 but took a leave of absence from the railroad and joined the Army. He was sent to England to work on airplanes. He said “these early planes were a little crude but we kept them flying.” They were two seaters with a pilot and a bombardier. Once when a bombardier was too sick to fly he took his place on a bombing strike across the English Channel. He was one of the founders of the Smithville American Legion and was a member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Lions Club.
  • Mr. Shade’s legacy of so many years of community service to Smithville is remarkable. He appears to have been a truly dedicated public servant with a strong vision of making Smithville a practical and productive community during some very difficult and challenging times in our country’s history.
  • It seems to me that the actions during his tenure helped to make Smithville a more self-sustaining community and has built a strong foundation on which we are continuing to build and grow. The community leaders that followed in his footsteps seem to have kept many of his foundational bricks in place!
  • Getting local sewer and utilities is a huge deal. That’s the biggest and most relevant accomplishment of this group.
  • Creating utility systems was a remarkably farsighted decision
  • Although I didn’t know Mr. Shade, he and his entire family have been a positive influence in this community. His wife, Linnet, was librarian here for many years and his son, Grover, has been a positive influence on this community as well.
  • I think Grover Shade is an excellent example of many aspects of what has greatly contributed to the development of Smithville.
    As far as I know he has done more for the development of Smithville than anyone else.
  • Contributions to the community that have lasted for decades and continue to provide service to the citizens of today.
  • I know his son Grover Jr and love that man. His dad must have been a great person to raise him to be the gentleman he is. I would vote for him if I could.

Runners Up:
#2: Col. Clarence Leslie Gilbert
#3: Donald Matocha
#4: Donnell Phillips
#2: LaFray McCall Carter
#3: Ada Mae Jones
#4: Clarence (“Cap”) Karcher
#5: Zerlee Gordon
#6: Lillian G. Tippen
Creative Community:
#2: LaVerne Harrell Clark
#3: Mary Nichols
Citizens of the Year/ Recognized Citizens:
#2: Iva Ruth Pendergrass
#3: Francis “Babe” Shirocky
#4: B.W. “Dube” Allen
#5: Margaret Webster
Community Leaders:
#2: Vernon Lee Richards
#3: Della Marrs
#4: Roger Byrne
#5: Charles Sawyer

Other Nominees from Phase 2 (September 2018)
NOTE: This project was created to honor the legacy of people who have already passed away and who were not already slated to be a part of the Smithville ISD (DAEP) Mural. At the time the project began, Former Mayor Mark Bunte, Judge Ron Jones, David Herrington, and Hannibal Lokumbe were all still alive. However, as nominees through this process, they have been included for potential future projects. Several of the nominees listed below will also be featured on the DAEP Mural.

Mario Rodriguez Jr Mario was a leader in everything he did. In high school sports, he was always the leader on and off the field. It’s my understanding that trait is the reason he was KIA. He apparently was putting himself in harm’s way after reaching cover by going back into the line of fire to help his comrades. I can see him doing that.
Jimmie Stacy (b 1932, d. 2011) served in army in 50s. Married Maurine Meuth of Smithville area. Served as a football coach in Smithville and then principal of Smithville High School. Father of Tylene Trousdale, Dori Stacy, and Neala Stacy.
Judge Ron Jones, who has made a huge impact in more recent history with the current population of Smithville, including those who could NOT vote.

I’m nominating GENE SAMPSON for #1 Educator; not only was he the coach for Smithville’s Mary A. Brown team winning the STATE CHAMPIONSHIP, as principal of Smithville Jr. High he won many awards including the Governor’s Excellence Award. He was a tireless educator and I witnessed countless students from A & M and other colleges coming back to thank Mr. Sampson for his biology teaching that made college a breeze for them. Ask Doug Hess and others if Mr. Sampson’s teaching skill wasn’t amazing.
#1 Educator should be Gene Sampson, teacher, coach and principal. I’m shocked at the oversight of leaving Mr. Sampson off the list. He was not only a long time revered biology teacher — preparing students for college– but he was the football coach of Mary A Brown and won the only State Championship we’ve ever achieved. As principal of Smithville Jr. High his leadership earned the school the GOVERNOR’S EXCELLENCE AWARD for student scores as well as other awards. He was amazing, tireless and should be recognized for his contributions to education and our community.
Jimmie Neal Stacy, who began his coaching/teaching career in Smithville in 1962 (he was married Maurine Meuth of Rosanky and later Judy Stacy). Coach Stacy went to University of Texas for his undergraduate degree and later completed his Masters from the Sam Houston. Mr. Stacy became the Principal of Smithville High School in 1975 and remained there until his retirement in 1989.
When I think of educators that shaped my life through education and community support I remember many educational and life lessons from Pat Vacek. The other candidates are remarkable but had stopped teaching before my years of education in the Smithville ISD
Mary A. Brown. She led the way in a time when both women and blacks were undervalued and marginalized.
I feel like we need to honor the educators who were some of the first in Smithville.

Creative Community:
Bill McGlaun
Smithville has many well-known residents who in their own art field have made major contributions to the town and wider community…one being Hannibal Lokumbe.

Citizens of the Year/Recognized Citizens:
Linnet Shade [1904-1993] hired and trained Karen Bell as a librarian. She was selected as Smithville’s Outstanding Citizen while Librarian. She was the first Librarian to serve at the current library. Renee Blaschke introduced her as Outstanding Citizen stating that “she is a good ambassador of public relations, always polite, courteous and her friendliness and helpfulness are outstanding.” Karen Bell carried on that tradition and acknowledged her as her mentor.
I think Silky Crockett should be on this list but she didn’t like to take pictures and she wouldn’t want her picture on a wall.
Judge Jones- years of dedicated service as judge and in community gardens and in the black community
Margaret Klaerner, Margaret was an educator, supporter of our medical community, amazing mother and an all-around wonderful woman!
Community Leaders:
Emil Buescher (1864 – 1931). Emil came to Smithville in 1897 with his brothers and contributed immeasurably to the town’s infrastructure in the years that followed. He and his brothers started the first light and water system in town almost immediately upon their arrival. He built the Smithville Oil Mill in 1900, bought an interest in the Smithville Gin Company, and organized a new school known as Smithville Academy. He was a stockholder in the newly formed First State Bank and served as President of the Smithville School Board for a number of years starting soon after it was formed, education being a huge interest to Buescher.
I think Judge Ron Jones should be considered for the community leader he was involved in so many things with in the City of Smithville. He had affiliation and membership in the following organizations: Bastrop County Care Committee Friends of the Smithville Library Housing Authority Board Keep Bastrop County Beautiful Littler Dribblers, Coach Master Mason MLK Beautification Program MLK Scholarship Committee Noon Lions Club Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Smithville Community Gardens Smithville Empty Bowl Project Smithville Food Pantry Board Smithville Garden Club Smithville Homecoming Committee Smithville Planning and Zoning Committee Texas Municipal Court Association Texas Municipal League Smithville Police Association Smithville Truancy Reduction Program Texas Young Lawyers Association Wesley Nurse Health Committee
David Harrington…..tireless community leader
Albert Crawford
Marie Bunte or Ron Jones

Other Nominees from Phase 1 (August-September, 2018)
NOTE: The following individuals were nominated during the Phase 1 Survey. Some of them were included as finalists in the Phase 2 Survey. This project was created to honor the legacy of people who have already passed away, but this list is a great compliment to many of the people who are currently making a difference in Smithville. Some of them may also be added to the DAEP Mural.

Any of them may also be considered for future projects to honor the history and culture of Smithville. * Judy Bergeron * Sam Blasco * Mary A Brown * Mark Bunte (2 nominations) * Silky Crocket * Tommye Dell Culberson * April Daniels * john daniels jr. * Cookie Evanicky * Bob Harris * Judge David Herrington – one of the original founders and instrumental in building the Smithville free medical clinic (8 nominations) * Jim Horton * Skip Hyson * Hannibal Lokumbe (2 nominations) * M.W. Kasper * Diana Kuninger (Spoken Word) * Richard Latham (2 nominations) * Adena Lewis * Dr. JD McBee * Eleanor Mutschink * Mary Nichols * Dr. Ravi Parchuri (5 nominations) * Sachel Paige: baseball player who actually played here in Smithville! * Mario Rodriquez Jr, Tina Priest and the other 3 soldiers lost in Iraq and Afghanistan * Vernon Richards (3 nominations) * Doris Sampson – donated the land for the free clinic and sits on the board of directors since 2004 * Gene Sampson * Dr. Sanchez * Otilia Sanchez * Scott Saunders, Mayor * Skeeter Sewart * Carol and Dennis Snyder * Jimmy Stacy (2 nominations) * Jill Strube (2 nominations) * Pat Vacek * Earl Walborg whose list of accomplishments are extensive. * Peggy Walicek

Other comments from the Phase 1 Survey:

  • All the names listed are ones I would approve to be included.
  • Founders of the volunteer organizations that represent the heart of this community. The Cultural District, LPAA, Education Foundation, Food Pantry, Community Gardens, Angels Unaware, Garden Club, Heritage Society, our three History Museums, etc.
  • You already have legacy people on the DAEP Mural. What about representing the volunteer organizations that represent the heart of this community. The Clinic, Community Gardens, Angels unaware, Food pantry, Garden club, Railroad Museum, Heritage Society, etc. If it has to be a person then use the founding member or outstanding member of each, and highlight those organizations that mean so much to the community.
  • I think duplicating images in both places is unavoidable unless they are separated by the installments. So many are already included for the DAEP, leaves little room for another person-based theme without duplication.