Newsmakers 2016: Robert Smith
There are few people with a heart bigger than Robert Smith, who at 66 is still a practicing attorney in his own law firm in Poplar Bluff, Missouri.
Smith takes many pro bono cases and works heavily with family and juvenile law cases involving methamphetamine-addicted individuals, especially those who are parents of children.
"A lot of these people have hard circumstances, and they have to make some difficult choices," Smith says. "And, they don't always make the best choices. Once they become an addict, it becomes even harder for them to make good choices."
Smith also is the co-founder and a permanent board member of the Poplar Bluff Boys and Girls Club, president of St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, co-founder and board president of Black River Public Radio, past president of the Butler County Resource Council, a former member and legal adviser for Child Concern Agency, a former board member of Catholic Charities of Southeast Missouri, and a board member of the South Central Missouri Community Action Agency.
Smith was a driving force behind the acquisition of a $293,000 grant to renovate a downtown building for the site of the new food pantry. He also resurrected and reorganized truancy court and laid the foundation for veterans court in the Poplar Bluff area.
When asked what calls him to be such a dedicated community volunteer, Smith's answer is both humble and simple.
"They say it takes a community to raise a child, and it takes community involvement. I just try to establish those things," he says.
Smith, who grew up in Poplar Bluff, moved away after high school and then returned with his wife, Dianne, in 1990.