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In Memory

Robbie Dee Smith, Jr.

Robbie Dee Smith, Jr.

You can leave your own memories of Robbie Dee Smith by using the 'Post Comment' button at the bottom of this page.

From Randy Willis:

Robbie Dee Smith and I spent a lot of time together, first at Herring Ave Methodist Church, and later in school beginning at North Junior High School.

Most classmates were not aware of his many talents because most of those talents were in 'non-school' activities.

His mother encouraged his progress in swimming and diving with the Waco Flying Dolphins Swim Team from a young age, and he was a state champion in swimming and diving in various age groups.

He was also a talented musician and songwriter.

Robbie Dee joined the football team as a punter during the football season his senior year. Because of his swimming and diving training, he was extremely flexible.

He attended University of Texas at Arlington on a diving scholarship. He also got a job as a diver at the Seven Seas theme park in Arlington.

See the diving platform on the left, and the ladder that continues to go up out of the picture? He would climb that ladder to a dizzying height and dive into the pool.

Because he was good with both people and animals, he became the whale trainer and show host. That's him directing the whale in a twisting jump.

He then progressed to riding the whale in the show.



That's him riding through the burning hoop on the back of the killer whale.

He had a good rapport with the whale - backstage he had the whale open his mouth, and had me pet the whale on his tongue.

I did what he said, but his joke worked - it scared the heck out of me to put my hand in among all those teeth.

Later when Seven Seas shut down, he accompanied the whale to a theme park in Canada and worked there for a while.











He decided to try making it as a songwriter and singer in Nashville, and had a song, "Freedom lives in a Country Song", recorded by Grandpa Jones and distributed by Warner Brothers in 1974.

He regaled me with great struggling artist stories, such as how he would sing songs in a bar, and then get paid with a couple drafts of beer that he would sell to patrons during intermission - that was how he made money.

And, as a starving artist, he lived a lot on popcorn - he could flavor popcorn to fit the meal - breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack.

Rather than 'Robbie Smith', he played as the 'Waco Kid'. Here is an unreleased studio album he recorded in Nashville.

He also served as a diver in the U.S. Navy.

Then he settled down, and I attended his wedding at First Methodist Church in Waco.

Some forms of mental illness are more common in highly creative people. and Robbie Dee was eventually diagnosed with a form of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

He moved back in with his parents in the house he grew up in, on 22nd street in north Waco. I visited with him at his house, and he was enjoying life despite the limitations that came with his disease.

His life had become a simple one, and he would often walk from his house to the 7-11 at 19th and Park Lake for a Dr Pepper or Reese's candy bar. One evening he did not come home, and after a search was found. He had been hit by a car. 

He passed away October 9, 1996 and is buried in the Fort Sam Houston cemetary in San Antonio.

I miss all the late nights in high school we spent in front of his house sitting on the hood of my 54 Chevy, figuring out the world and singing songs. I miss the Sunday mornings when we got so caught up in our ping pong matches after Sunday school that we had to sneak in late (or miss) church services. I miss Robbie Dee.

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12/06/10 03:39 PM #6    

James Weaver ('71 Richfield)

Robbie was one of my closest friends through High School.  We played in a band together and he taught me a whole lot on the guitar.  He wrote a lot of songs and I always thought he was ahead of his time.  We played ping pong at his house and he loved beating me and at times beating his dad.  I spent more time with Robbie during High School than any other person. He ask my opinion about going out for football and being the kicker his senior year.  I said well let me see you kick.  He proceeded to kick that ball about 60 yards and I said, "Are you kidding?"   I remember him kicking a 70 yard punt one game after it finally quit rolling.  He was a fantastic athlete.

 I remember the joy he shared after his marriage and he sang a new song he had just written.  I can't remember the words but I remember thinking, that is a fantastic song and I so hope that someone would discover his tremendous talent.  When his older sister was killed in a car accident he was devastated.  Robbie was a great friend to me.  We had an honest relationship and he would at times tell me things about myself that I didn't like to hear, but it was the truth.  I loved going to his swimming and diving competitions.  When he would win I felt great because he was my friend.  Later as our band got a little better we played a few dances.  We weren't that great as a band, but Robbie was fantastic.  I wept when I heard about his death.  I drive by his house every time I am back in Waco and say a prayer for his family.  His parents treated me like family and I ate supper at least once a week with them, usually on Taco night.  Thanks Randy for sharing this information about Robbie and giving opportunity to write about our love for him and his family. He was indeed a believer in Jesus and I look forward to seeing him in heaven someday.

12/13/10 08:36 PM #7    

Mike Teichelman

Robbie Dee was a good friend and I am saddened to hear he is gone. I hung out at his house as did lot of his other classmates. He was just fun to be around. I remember his big sister [dated] a guy that went by the name "Boomer" [soccer player from Austria] and I think he was a kicker for a pro team [Dallas Cowboys] but I don't remember which one. It was Boomer that taught Robbie how to punt.  And boy, could he punt!

[Robbie's mother enjoyed reading everyone's comments and requested the changes highlighted above.]

02/12/11 05:44 PM #8    

Bob McGregor

He was a magnificent athlete. It was a beautiful thing to watch him punt-- or swim-- or even sing.

04/04/11 08:03 PM #9    

Randy Willis

From Ken Sullivan, Class of '72:

I did not know your tribute to Robbie existed before today, nor did I know about this Waco High website. Thanks for creating the tribute.

Robbie and I became friends in 1970 through the Golden Voices. He looked me up a few years after High School and we roomed together for about a year. During that time he worked for my dad at his truck shop, and Robbie and I sang together at church. I kept in touch with Robbie, and visited with him often.

I was on a trip to California when he passed away, and did not find out until about a week after his funeral. I sure miss him. I made a recording of him singing and playing all the Gospels songs he had written. They really ought to be published.

05/03/11 11:18 PM #10    

Nora Trantham (Leftwich)

The last time I saw Robbie was when I work at the Trib. I was so thrilled to see him. He didn't remember me or his time at Waco High. He said he didn't remember. I remember him being such a really nice guy in school.

05/20/11 05:58 PM #11    

Randy Willis

 Debbbie Warren provided Robbie's newspaper obituary:

06/18/11 01:53 PM #12    

Kay Gardner (Ferguson)

 I remember Robbie well.  We went to church together at Herring Ave. We would stand beside each other in Sunday night choir because with his vocal range; he could hit some high notes and I could only sing in a lower register. We decided that if we stood next to each other nobody would notice who had what voice.

We were talking one day about the picture in the annual.  He said it was a great pic but he kicked so high he landed on his bottom after the pic was snapped. We both had a good laugh about.

He was a sweet, kind person; he is missed.

06/18/11 02:06 PM #13    

Rosilee Moore (Butler)

   robbie was such a sweet person, .i think me and him were the last two who didn't have dates for the prom.   he finally asked me, i was so scared,  fantastic, nite , i think we were both a little shy.,cause i didn't date much, but i had a great time,he played his guitar and sang.    his church  was right across from where i lived , we weren't allowed to go to other churches until i was a senior , did visit there  .i remember the flying dolphins, used our swimming pool for a couple of years, i was the head life guard and swimming teacher  there also,.  mmm i had the key to the gate,..funi will never forget robbie.


08/27/15 12:12 AM #14    

Bob McGregor

I still miss Robbie and think of him often. One of the most overall talented individuals I ever met.

08/27/15 10:10 AM #15    

Donald Scott

A few years before Robbie died, I had the privilege of playing and singing with him one fun-filled night. He was talented and no surprise to his friends, humble. I regret I didn't have more opportunities to interact with him.

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