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Community gathers to remember Smith

Life of MISD board president, longtime educator celebrated

Bill Spinks
Midlothian Mirror
Carl Smith

The death of board president Carl Smith before Christmas Day left a vacancy not only on the Midlothian ISD board of trustees, but also in the hearts of those who knew him.

A memorial service honoring the life of Smith was held on Monday at the Midlothian High School basketball arena. Family, friends and community members shared lots of fond remembrances for the trustee and longtime educator, who passed away Dec. 20 from COVID-19 complications at the age of 77.

Pastor Mike Simmons of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Cedar Hill, which Smith and his family attended, said Smith was a man of God who served faithfully at his church.

“Any time I would ask him to do anything, he was willing to serve,” Simmons said. “That was his heartbeat.”

Don Medlin, senior partner with Scarbrough, Medlin & Associates, gave Smith his start in his second career in the insurance business after Smith had retired as an educator. Medlin said he has known Smith for 50 years.

“We became good friends, a friendship that still continues,” Medlin said. “Having known Carl personally for 50 years, he would want us to celebrate his life and not mourn his death. Because that’s the way Carl felt. Carl was a real believer. He’s a good man.”

Smith’s granddaughter, Carly Loper, sang “Amazing Grace” at the beginning of the service, and later sang a version of "Auld Lang Syne."

Smith’s 3-year term on the school board expires in May, and his open seat will be filled at that time. Candidate filing for the May 1 election opens next week and closes on Feb. 12, according to the Ellis County Elections Office.

In the meantime, the board will soldier on in its process of replacing superintendent Dr. Lane Ledbetter, who has accepted a similar post with Carroll ISD. The superintendent returned to MISD one final time to speak at Smith’s memorial service.

 “As a board member, you work closely with the leadership team on the district,” Ledbetter said. “The world ‘selfless’ kept coming up. He didn’t want the glory or the publicity; he really wanted to be there to serve kids ... That’s the way he tried to live out his life in this community and as a board member. He lived that out in everything he did and every decision he made.”

Just nine days before his death, Smith had written a letter to MISD patrons on the school website updating the status of the search for a new superintendent.

Smith was first elected to the MISD board of trustees in May 2014. “I've spent the better part of my life in education,” Smith said during his inauguration. “It really is my passion and it's in my heart.”

Smith was senior vice president of educational entities at Scarbrough Medlin & Associates, a Plano-based insurance agency, and had been employed by the firm since 1997. He was a consultant and insurance agent for approximately 30 school districts.

Before that, Smith served for 30 years as a teacher, principal, director of secondary instruction and executive director of personnel in the Duncanville ISD.

Smith received both his Bachelor of Science degree in Public Education (1968) and Masters of Science in Public Education Degree (1976) from the University of North Texas. Additional coursework was completed at Oklahoma State University and Stephen F. Austin University. Smith had completed all required coursework for the Doctorate of Education from both the University Of North Texas and Texas A&M University at Commerce.

“Carl and I had a lot of things in common that I think caused us to be good friends from the start,” Medlin said. “We both came from a simple background, and knew education was the way out of a simple background and to making success in life. We both had a joy and a love for education.“