Wayman LeRoy Smith, 80, passed away on February 8, 2023 at home in Moore, Okla., surrounded by family. LeRoy was preceded in death by his infant son; brother, Lonny Ray; father, Grady Wayman; and mother, Florence Estella Slate Smith. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Kathy Dianne Appel Smith; and daughter, Camber Lynne Smith of the home; daughter Sjonna Leigh Whitsitt-Paulson; son-in-law Lawrence Paulson; grandchildren, Wayman Aleczander “Alec” Whitsitt, Emma “Victor” Kathryn Paulson and Abigael “Toby” Lynne Paulson of Moore, Okla.; sister, Aneta Marie Chen of South Pasadena, Calif.; and former son-in-law Brian Whitsitt of Oklahoma City, Okla.
LeRoy was born on November 20, 1942 in Calumet, Okla. LeRoy attended Center Grove and McCloud schools, graduating high school from Ozark Academy, a Seventh Day Adventist boarding school in Gentry, Arkansas. He attended Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, TX, and the University of Central Oklahoma, graduating with a Bachelor degree. LeRoy then graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Masters degree in Social Work.
Throughout LeRoy’s six-decade career in juvenile justice and consulting, his unwavering dedication to improving the lives of youth and families, as well as the agencies that served them, was his passion. In the late 1960s, LeRoy was instrumental in writing the Federal grants which funded the first community-based agencies serving youth and families in Oklahoma; and in opening the first shelter for runaway youth in Norman, Oklahoma in the early 1970s. In the mid ‘70s, LeRoy authored the program manual, Woods for Walls, outlining how juvenile delinquents could learn to develop positive emotional, behavioral and social skills when counselors and teens worked together in an outdoor communal environment.
Serving as a juvenile justice consultant and advocate, LeRoy helped youth services in Oklahoma forge the way for youth to find better, safer and more productive life paths, for youth and their parents. His focus was programs that allowed the development of healthier, supportive relationships for youth; for delinquent and incarcerated youth to be treated with dignity; and, that youth in need were offered the services to make more positive choices once out of crisis. These concepts of providing youth with services in areas of prevention, counseling and reconciliation were groundbreaking in the late 1960s and ‘70s. The work done in Oklahoma led to LeRoy to working with multiple states, including Texas, Arkansas and Nebraska, to improve how youth-in-crisis and delinquent youth were treated and offered physical and mental health support. LeRoy was always ready and willing to be an advocate, mentor and ally for youth, families and the incredible people in the youth service agencies that served them.
During his career, LeRoy’s adeptness at organizational management, strategic planning, grant writing and negotiation led to his consulting in the private sector, including serving as Vice President of Empire Drilling in the 1980s. LeRoy also assisted his grandparents in creating a family trust which is now known as WAYLONETA, LLC, to ensure that resources from the family farm were available to secure educational and life-bettering opportunities for subsequent generations. This concept endured through three generations and the legacy continues with the fourth generation of family members.
At the core of LeRoy’s life was his love for his family. As a youth, LeRoy helped on the family farms, from working wheat harvest to picking cotton, tending livestock to working on various machinery and from selling watermelons from the back of a truck to catching dinner in the local fishing hole. LeRoy was always ready to help his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles with whatever needed to be done to help the family succeed. As a young man, he and his wife Kathy, always started with a family first focus, helping each other achieve their life goals and creating a family that spent time with grandparents and great-grandparents and working in various family businesses. As an adult, LeRoy continued sharing his vast life skills, mentoring his children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews through life’s trials and tribulations. He included his family in his love of sports, photography, bird-watching, sailing, guitar and harmonica playing, target shooting, farm management, wildlife conservation, rock hounding, Jeeping, camping and side road adventures. Some of his children’s fondest memories are those of the family road trip vacations – even when some of those driving experiences meant LeRoy steered the vehicle with his knees on mountain roads while playing harmonica, telling Dad jokes and the tall tales that the road signs ‘watch for falling rocks’ were really pleas to look for a missing Native American princess. Affectionately known as Po by his grandchildren, LeRoy was always ready for a hug, to listen, to offer guidance and to participate in their life adventures.
LeRoy had great pride in his 60-year marriage with Kathy, saying that it worked because they loved each other, and he kept choosing her and she kept choosing him every day. They had respect for each other’s differences and always found a way to pull together to keep the family moving towards common goals.
LeRoy led a life worth celebrating. We invite you to attend a celebration of his life on Saturday, March 4 at 2 p.m. at Moore Funeral and Cremation 400 SE 19th St., Moore, OK 73160. Please come ready to share a memory, a story or a moment of how LeRoy impacted your life with all of us. If you would like to send a remembrance to be read, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Appetizers will be served.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Tiny Homes program of Pivot youth services in LeRoy’s name at https://pivot.funraise.org/. Pivot Tiny Homes assist youth aging out of foster care with affordable and stable housing catering to their unique needs as well as access to services that will allow them to develop skills to become self-reliant adults with a plan to achieve long term success.
To plant a beautiful memorial tree in memory of Wayman LeRoy Smith, please visit our Tree Store.
Tiny Homes Program of Pivot Youth Services
201 NE 50TH St, Oklahoma City OK