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Cattle industry mourns passing of Larry Joe Smith

published: May 4th 2020
source: Smith Family

Cattle industry mourns the passing of Larry Joe Smith


Larry Joe Smith, Shiloh, Texas passed away on April 29, 2020. Smith was known across the beef industry as he spent his lifetime in two aspects of the business—sale facilities and trucking. While both businesses would be categorized as behind the scenes at a sale, Smith’s personality, his work ethic and his desire to be known as reliable and dependable would make him an integral part of the success of each sale that employed his services and he made friends at every ranch he put foot on for more than four decades.



He was born June 11, 1945 in Brady, Texas and his childhood was spent on various registered Texas Angus cattle operations, as his dad managed ranches in Kerrville, Midlothian and Hockley.  His final three years of high school were spent in Poteet, Texas, where his dad worked for the Gorman Triple J Ranch. Smith’s childhood included showing steers and lambs and excelling in several sports, as he was all district in football and a three time state qualifier in shot put/discus.


Smith’s athletic ability led him to Oklahoma State University (OSU), where he would receive a bachelor’s degree in agriculture. In addition, he played for the OSU Football team, competed on the livestock judging team and rodeo team. He was introduced to steer wrestling at OSU by his football teammate and Dallas Cowboy legend, Walt Garrison. He qualified for the National College Finals Rodeo in steer wrestling two times.  His love for OSU continued throughout his life, as he proudly drove an orange cabbed truck with OSU on the grill.


His rodeo career would continue after college as he was a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) for many years and was a gold card member.


In 1973, while doing some cattle fitting between rodeos, he had the opportunity to purchase a tent, a sale ring and panels on the spot. That spur of the moment decision would lead to a lifetime of service to registered cattle breeders. At the height of that business, Smith’s company would handle 150 sales, including eight ballroom marketing events in one year at the Houston Livestock Show. He even built ramps to second stories of major hotels to get cattle in and out of sale rings and would set up for sales at ranches, as well as country clubs.  He would expand it to include providing facilities for horse sales and even some rodeos. At one time Smith Sale Service had enough panels in inventory to stretch five miles as the purebred cattle industry would see multiple sales every weekend. Included in the inventory were three diesel tractor-trailer rigs that would lead to Smith to his next business.


In 1989, Smith would move from setting up sale facilities to trucking the cattle. Smith’s work ethic, reliability, big smile and ability to talk to anyone would soon make him in demand at most purebred and even large commercial sales across the South. In his lifetime, he would haul thousands of head of cattle, including some of the most valuable genetics in several breeds. He built his company on strong customer service. Seedstock breeders knew they could rely on Smith and his associates to deliver their cattle on time and take the utmost care of their genetics.


His love of rodeo continued throughout his life, as well as his love of sports, the outdoors, country music and country living. He was known for his generosity and willingness to always lend a hand.


Smith leaves behind his wife of 20 almost years, Claudia and her two sons, Kyle and wife, Nicole Harris and Travis and wife, Kim Harris, and grandchildren, Allison, Mark, Hayden and Madeleine Harris. He also is survived by two brothers, Gene and wife Cheryl Smith and Mike and wife Martha Smith; a niece, Marla Hanks, two nephews Matt and Hadley Smith and grand nephews and nieces.  He was preceded in death by his parents, Joe Kirk and Billie Jean Burger Smith. In addition, friends nationwide in the cattle and rodeo industries mourn his passing.


Graveside services were held Saturday, May 2nd . Pallbearers were Terry Reagan, Tom Johnson, Mike Cox, John K. Smith, Mike Bolton, Jonathan Bible and Sammy Schneider. Honorary pallbearers were Gene Smith, Mike Smith, Matt Smith, Hadley Smith and Tucker Jacob.



A scholarship fund in Smith’s honor has been established through the Texas Junior Brangus Breeders Association (TJBBA). Contributions can be mailed to the TJBBA, c/o Barbara Scroggins, P.O. Box 78, Thorndale, Texas 76577. Please note that donation is to be placed in this memorial fund.

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