According to Beb Fulkerson, “For several years it was my privilege to work for Truett Smith at the Wylie News, which was owned and operated by him. A staunch Democrat, he once asked me who I was voting for as Governor. I blurted out, “The first one who asks me personally.” Shortly thereafter, he and Rita invited me to a tea at Dallas in honor of Governor Preston Smith, who was seeking re-election. You’re right. I voted for Preston Smith.”
Rita and Truett are both descendants of the first Wylie settlers. They have lived here consecutively all of their lives. James Anderson, Truett’s great grandfather headrighted 640 acres here in 1850. His son, Sylvester, continued to farm this land until his death in 1935. Sylvester’s daughter, Maud, married S.W. (Bud) Smith, son of John Wesley Smith, former Collin County Commissioner. Truett was one of their four children.
Rita Emily Anne Gallagher was born to Claude M. and Anna McNally Gallagher. Claude was the son of James and Harriett Emily Spurgin Gallagher, who came here in the early 1850’s. Rita can recall working at the family owned C.M. Gallagher Dry Goods Store in the 1930’s, where “accounts were paid once a year after the crops were gathered.” After the Great Depression closed the store, Rita began writing insurance. She continued to do this until 1983 when she retired.
In 1949 she married C. Truett Smith, the local banker. Partnerships in insurance, banking, investments, etc. proved to be not only good for these two, but for the town as well. Throughout the years at the Wylie Insurance Agency, Rita and Truett were co-owners of this oldest continuous business in Wylie. It was Rita who worked there while Truett ran the First State Bank. Truett was available for help and advice in the insurance, while Rita served as a director in the First State Bank.
Civic activities abound for Rita Gallagher Smith. She is interested in people and happy to be with them. She was a charter member of the Wylie Garden Club, the Book Review Club and on the organizing board of the Wylie Public Library.
Throughout the years Rita’s most admirable trait has been the support of her husband. Truett has been called “the man who wears many hats” because of his numerous activities other than banking, insurance, investments, and The News. He was instrumental in bringing to Wylie Lake Layon, North Texas Municipal Water District, expanding Johnston Inc., building Wylie Clinic and Collin County Memorial Hospital.
For 35 years Truett was Wylie’s director and secretary/treasurer at North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) until he was replaced by Raymond Cooper. He has served in a variety of offices in the American Banker’s Association and the Texas Banker’s Association. He was past president of the East Texas Chamber of Commerce and was on the executive committee of the North Central Texas Council of Governments, a member of the Collin County School Board, director at Texas Power and Light, and was appointed by Governors Preston Smith and Dolph Briscoe to be director on the Texas Industrial Commission, which he held for 12 years.
Rita belongs to the Catholic Church, and Truett is active in the Wylie United Methodist. Both encourage the other and help in any way. This has never caused any difficulty, for as Truett once said, “Why should this cause trouble?”
After retirement Rita and Truett opened Smith Investments in downtown Wylie. They also gave the City a huge gift—the beautiful and bountiful Rita and Truett Smith Library. On commenting concerning this contribution, Mr. and Mrs. Smith issued the following statement: “The City of Wylie and its people have been extremely kind and generous to us through the many years, and we deem it a privilege to be able to repay a portion of that kindness with this gift. We hope that the facility may serve generations to come.”
By Beb Fulkerson, from her1990 book Wylie Heritage. Photo: Rita & Truett Smith.
Note: Larry Travis mentioned that he worked at Wylie Supermarket in his younger years and that Truett Smith was the only customer that would give a tip to the package boys.