Tony Smith of Ashdown, Ark., died unexpectedly on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, at the age of 74 surrounded by his family.
Tony was born, Aug. 22, 1947, in Nashville, Ark., to Otha E. Smith and Hazel Bullington Smith. Tony grew up in the community of Okay, Ark., and was a member of the Saratoga High School class of 1965 where he excelled in basketball and track. Tony graduated from the Nashville Diesel Academy in Nashville, Tenn., where he learned to be a diesel engine mechanic. Upon graduation from the academy, Tony completed basic training in Fort Polk, La., and then did a tour of duty as combat medic with the 1st Infantry Division of the United States Army in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive of 1968. After his honorable discharge form the US Army, Tony Returned to southwest Arkansas where (through mutual friends) he met and married the love of his life, Kathy and began his profession as a full-time mechanic for Southern Cement Transit Company where he also drove trucks at night. This work ethic would follow him for the remainder of his professional career and would evolve into an entrepreneurial passion that would later create one of the largest employers in our area.
After 4 years at Southern Cement, Tony accepted a position as the Service Manager for Texarkana Truck Center, which he held for the next 17 years, it was while there he founded Southern Refrigerated Transport, Inc. (SRT), where he would remain for the next 30 years until his retirement in 2016. Under Tony’s leadership, he and his team built SRT into one of the largest temperature-controlled trucking companies in North America employing over 1500 people at its pinnacle. Tony had a reputation for being tough but fair and those who got to know him saw that underneath his “tough” exterior was a heart as big as his personality. While he was never accused of being the most patient man, he genuinely cared about people and when asked what he contributed his company’s success to he was quick to say “just always do what is right”.
He cherished his family and was a lifelong, avid outdoorsman. After his retirement he spent most of his time on his cattle ranch, camping and traveling with family and friends, teaching his grandchildren to hunt and fish, and advising his son as he ventured along the path of starting his own trucking company. He loved to tell stories and his grandkids would sit and listen to them until he was tired of telling them. He was always a practical joker and loved to aggravate those that he loved the most.
Tony was preceded in death by his parents and his brother Terry.
He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Kathy Sillavan Smith of Ashdown, one daughter and son-in-law, Toinette and Lou Tretter of Little Rock, one son and daughter-in-law, Justin and Jenni Smith of Ashdown, one granddaughter Lillie Tretter , 3 grandsons, Ethan Smith, Grant Tretter, and Hudson Smith, and one nephew Bryan Smith and wife Emily.
Graveside services will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, February 4 at Restland Memorial Park, 1442 Mine St., Nashville, Ark., under the direction of Latimer Funeral Home.
In Lieu of flowers donations can be made in his honor to The Special Olympics at supportspecialolympics.org or the National Association of Down Syndrome @ gov.nads.gov
You may send an online sympathy message at www.latimerfuneralhome.com.