How Houston is remembering Lester Smith

HOUSTON – All across Houston, many are remembering the life and legacy of Houston oil man and philanthropist Lester Smith.

“He is going to be missed by a lot of people,” said Dr. Paul Klotman, the president and CEO at Baylor College of Medicine.

Klotman said he received the news Thursday morning that his friend passed away. He said Smith, 76, was very generous in his pursuit to help others.

“Some of our best programs at Baylor have been because of donations that Lester and Sue gave -- the breast center, the prostate center, the lung institute,” Klotman said.

Smith contributed more than $150 million to support numerous organizations across the city including $15 million to help expand the Holocaust Museum in Houston. The new building is currently under construction.

“He was always very helpful as an individual and very powerful in his philanthropy,” said Dr. Kelly Zuniga, the CEO of the Holocaust Museum Houston. “He is giant in philanthropy and will remembered into perpetuity because of his forward thinking and generosity and also his great heart.”

The president and CEO of Texas Children's Hospital was also saddened by Smith's passing. Mark A. Wallace issued this statement:

“I was honored to call Lester Smith my friend and I am deeply saddened by the news of his passing. He lived his life honorably and among his greatest joys was his dedication to the service of others. Texas Children’s was lucky enough to be a beneficiary of his unwavering generosity over the years and his commitment to our patients and their families, notably our Cancer Center, was unmatched. Lester’s incredible legacy will live on in the medical advancements, state-of-the-art care and infinite hope for our patients in the tower which now bears his name – Texas Children’s Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower. My thoughts and heartfelt condolences are with his biggest fan, Sue, as well as his children, Stuart and his wife, Limor, and Shelly and her husband, Brian.”

Neil and Maria Bush, co-founders of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, said," “Maria and I are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Lester Smith. He was a special friend of my family’s and a long-time supporter of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation. Lester was a true point of light in our city, a man driven by his passion for serving others through his selfless acts of kindness and the tremendous financial investments he and his wife, Sue, have made over the many years through The Lester and Sue Smith Foundation. Their generosity has provided countless people a better life and brighter future, and undoubtedly, Lester’s legacy will live on forever through his family and the incredible organizations doing transformative work because of the Smith’s support. Surely, Lester is in Heaven teaching others to dance like no one’s watching. Our heartfelt condolences and prayers go out to Lester’s family and all who mourn his loss. We give thanks to God for blessing us all with the gift of Lester Smith and celebrate his most precious and incredible life.”

Many remember him as a family man and a philanthropist who loved to ballroom dance and left his mark on the city.

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