Raith Lynwood Smelser (Updated)



Raith Lynwood Smelser, Jr of Center, Texas, died peacefully at his home on Saturday, July 23 surrounded by his loving family, friends, and dog, Peaches. Lynwood was born January, 24, 1936 in Ringgold, Louisiana. After graduating from Minden High School (class of 1959) he entered Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, Louisiana to pursue a degree in Civil Engineering. Upon graduation he went to work for the U.S. Forest Service.   In 1976 he became manager of a cooperative project between the Forest Service and NASA. He worked closely with NASA and the Apollo astronauts on this project. Then in 1976 he was selected to manage a 170,000 acre area called Land Between the Lakes for the Tennessee Valley Authority. Lynwood retired from Federal service in 1992 and moved to Center. Retirement never lasted long as he became engineer for Brown Builders in Shreveport, Louisiana on contracts for Barksdale Airforce Base. Lastly he became a consultant for Wheeler Law Office where his work with riding lawnmower cases involving small children became a job that he was most proud of. Helping families cope with the loss of children in these cases became his passion. Lynwood was also a recognized hunter, fisherman, and craftsman of hunting knives. He was the owner of Delta S Engineering and served on many National Boards during his career.
Preceded in death by his mother Catherine Smelser and father Raith Smelser, Sr and stepmother Sara Smelser. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Betty O’Donnell Smelser; son John Ryland Smelser of Center; son Mark Raith Smelser and wife Mandy Vickery Smelser of Troup, Tx; Grandson Jake Raith Smelser of Troup, Tx; and step-sister Susan LaFitte of Shawnee, Ok. Also sister-in-Laws Gene Albright of Longview and Kathryn Axen  and her husband and Lynwoods best friend Albert Axen of Center. Numerous nephews and a very special niece Ava Axen who lovingly became one of his caregivers. His life was also filled with memories of many special friends where ever he lived. 
Lynwood was a very intelligent individual who always could answer the most complex question with ease. Whether speaking to a convention of thousands or a group of few, he was always using his experiences in life to relay a special message. His greatest life accomplishments were his family and making sure they were happy. He was most happy when he was with his grandson Jake, watching him grow and learn how to fish, hunt, and play golf. If he could talk to us today he would say, “John it is ok, I am at peace.” 
The family would like to give a special thank you to Dr. Jane Todd, Sara Lloyd, and devoted friend Don Weaver.
A memorial celebration will be held later as Lynwood requested cremation. In lieu of flowers memorials can be made to the First United Methodist Church in Logansport, Nursery Fund – P.O. Box 177,  Logansport, Louisiana 71049. Funeral arrangement are under the direction of Mangum Funeral Home.
You may sign the online registry book at
Services are under the direction of Mangum Funeral Home Center, Texas


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