Byron Downs Smith

June 4, 1936 ~ April 11, 2022 (age 85)


Byron was born in Avinger, Texas on June 4, 1936 and grew up in Hughes Springs.  Byron met his partner for life, Martha Jean Keasler, at an area church event in 1953.  Byron and Jean were married on January 10, 1955, and raised four children:  Byron Jr, Cheryl (Gray), Warren and Laura (Hill).  They have eight grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Byron graduated from Hughes Springs HS in 1954.  He was in the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M before graduating in 1957 from the University of Texas in Austin with a BS in Mechanical Engineering.  Byron later earned a Masters in Industrial Engineering from the University of Houston.  He was the first in his family to graduate college.  Byron was a registered Professional Engineer in Texas,   California, and Louisiana.

Early in his career, Byron worked on the design of the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier.  In 1964, he moved to Houston. There, he was part of the Space Program - working on the design of the Lunar Module, astronaut space suit, Skylab and the prototype of the Space Shuttle.  In 1974 he began working at M.W. Kellogg, retiring 25 years later.  He then worked part time at BEI from 2006 to 2021.  He served on the Board of Directors for the KBR Heritage Credit    Union for almost 40 years. He was the Chairman from 1994 to 2004.

Byron was adventurous. He traveled the world with his work and visited Europe with Jean 7 times. He was a student of history, especially the US Civil War and WWII.  He was interested in science and US politics.

Byron embraced Jesus as his savior as a teenager and, with Jean, led an active life in the church.  He studied the Scriptures throughout his adult life and taught adult Sunday School at First Baptist Church, Pasadena, for approximately 25 years.

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