Thanks to his cumulative support, through gifts during his lifetime as well as through his estate, Robert E. Smith has earned the distinction of being the largest individual donor in the history of Delta State University. In addition, Mr. Smith's estate gift represents the largest-single gift to the Campaign for Delta State University. In Mr. Smith's words, the goal of his giving was to "transform healthcare in the Mississippi Delta." By designating funds for the School of Nursing, he ensured that his dream would someday become a reality. In recognition of his generous financial support, the Delta State University School of Nursing was officially renamed the Robert E. Smith School of Nursing in 2009.
Mr. Smith was actively involved in Delta State University. He was both a member of the Delta State University Foundation Board of Directors and the local Wesley Foundation's Board of Directors, which is a student organization sponsored by the United Methodist Church. He created six scholarships in the nursing school program at Delta State University.
Mr. Smith was born on December 23, 1921 in Cleveland to Charles Milton Smith and Emma Seelbinder Smith. He graduated from Cleveland High School, and he attended Mississippi State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in the School of Agriculture. At Mississippi State he was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. In addition, he also did graduate work at Delta State University.
Mr. Smith was very devoted to his country and served her courageously in World War II. He attended Officer's Training School in Fort Knox, KY., and upon graduation served as an officer in the Tank Division in Europe where he participated in the liberation of Paris, the Battle of the Bulge, and fought the Germans 1,300 miles across Europe. He was a Platoon Leader with five tanks under his command. At the conclusion of the war, he received the European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three bronze stars, the American Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal and was discharged as a First Lieutenant.