Charles R. Smith was born February 4, 1936 to Thurman E. Smith and Erna Marie (Schrank) Smith, in Hamilton, Texas. The family moved to Nederland, Texas in 1940. Charles began piano lessons in the fifth grade and began band in the sixth grade under band director, John Badgett. Directors in the Nederland schools that were a big influence on Charles were John Badget, Harry Charles, and Charles Enloe. He graduated as salutatorian from Nederland High School in 1954.
Charles earned his B.S. in Music Education from Lamar State University in 1958. He attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois and graduated with a M.M. in Music Education in the spring of 1959. He taught piano and organ at Concordia Teachers College in River Forest, Illinois, during the 1958-59 school year.
Charles began his teaching career at Vidor ISD as the junior high band director in 1960, and became the high school band director in 1961. He accepted the Coordinator of Music position in 1967, and retained both positions until retirement in 1992.
The Vidor High School marching band and concert band were consistently awarded “superior” or “excellent” ratings in contests. The students brought back many medals from solo and ensemble contests, and won at region and area band tryouts. The band, and sometimes the entire high school music department, made trips to participate in contests other than TMEA or UIL events. The band traveled to St. Petersburg, Florida, to participate in the Festival of States events, the Battle of Flowers Parade in San Antonio, the Buccaneer Festival in Corpus Christi, the Sun Bowl in El Paso, and the Tri-State Music Festival in Enid, Oklahoma. They always returned a happy group with awards and trophies. The last time the bands, choirs, and drill team all participated in the Tri-State Music Festival, they came home with all the awards and trophies in their classification.
The band did not always make “superior” in concert, but were happy with an “excellent,” as long as they had the chance to see how much like “strings” the band sounded on the transcriptions they played. The band performed some of the finest band literature, but seldom missed a chance to perform a transcription as part of their contest program.
The students and directors worked hard to have good contest bands. They also worked very hard to have four of five other concerts each year, which would include a wide variety of band literature of all types they could enjoy, and have a good learning experience as well.
Charles married a fellow band director, Charlesene Hundson, in June of 1960. They have two children, Julie Ann Bell and Kevin Heath Smith, and two grandchildren, Justin Bell and Jared Bell.
Since the age of thirteen, Charles has played organ for Lutheran churches and was recognized in 1999 for his fiftieth year, and he is still playing.
Charles retired in 1992, and became the director for the Orange Community Band. He was Region TMEA Band Chairman from 1960 to 1964, and has been either the UIL Band Contest Chairman or the Executive Secretary for Region X from 1965 to the present.