Promoted to Glory
Commissioner Lawrence R. Smith promoted to Glory
Former Western Territorial Commander Commissioner Lawrence Smith, 93, was promoted to Glory on March 2, 2009 from a nursing home in Torrance, Calif., with his wife, Commissioner Wilma Smith, and nephew, Major Stephen Smith, at his side.
Lawrence Robert Smith was born May 28, 1915 in Alma, Mont. The family moved to Portland, Ore., and Lawrence’s association with The Salvation Army began when he was a young boy at the Portland No. 4 Corps. He entered the School for Officer Training in San Francisco in the World for God Session and was commissioned in 1936. His first appointment was to the corps at Salinas, Calif. In 1939 he married Lieutenant Wilma Cherry.
The Smiths were appointed to Hawaii in 1939 where they spent five years. They served as corps officers and in specialized children’s work. During World War II they were directors of The Salvation Army United Service Organizations (USO), operating a USO club for servicemen in Wahiawa, Oahu. Their first son, Michael Lawrence, was born in Hawaii.
Returning to the Mainland in 1944, the Smiths were appointed as corps officers in San Jose, Calif., where their second son, Brian Charles, was born. Further appointments were as directors of the Army’s children’s home in Lytton, Calif., and two years on the faculty of the School for Officer Training in San Francisco. In 1954 Smith was appointed divisional secretary for the Northern California and Nevada Division with the rank of Major. In 1962, he was appointed as public relations secretary for the Western Territory with promotion to Brigadier.
After two years as staff secretary and field secretary, Lt. Colonel Smith was promoted to the rank of Colonel and assigned to International Headquarters as the international public relations secretary. Following six years in London, the Smiths returned to the West in 1975, where Smith became the chief secretary for the Western Territory.
The next appointment was as territorial commander in New Zealand for two years, with the rank of Commissioner. He was then appointed to his home territory as the territorial commander for the USA Western Territory in January 1980. Commissioners Lawrence and Wilma Smith retired in 1982.
Smith studied at San Francisco State University and the University of California at Berkeley. He was a Rotarian and a charter member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW). In retirement he lived in Rancho Palos Verdes and Torrance and enjoyed the fellowship of the Torrance Corps.
Smith is survived by his wife of 69 years, Commissioner Wilma Smith; son Brian Smith; daughter-in-law Eileen Smith (wife of Michael); three grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. His son Michael preceded him in death.
Commissioner Philip Swyers conducted a memorial service at the Torrance Corps. Commissioner James Osborne, who served with Smith as his chief secretary, brought the message.