1961 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"Dedicate yourself to the job in front of you and success will be inevitable."
In his youth, C. R. Smith worked in Texas to help support his mother and six brothers and sisters. He served as a bookkeeper for a bank and a cotton mill, and worked in the state's tax department. He put himself through college by working as a part-time federal bank examiner and operating a one-man direct mail agency. He became an accounting specialist in public utilities and was later named assistant treasurer of the Texas-Louisiana Power Company. In 1928, the power company's president asked him to take over the bookkeeping and to manage a local airmail carrier that the president had purchased. At first, Smith was reluctant to become involved in the airline business, but soon he became married to it. He learned how to repair planes, buy them, and fly them, and when Aviation Corporation bought out the airline in 1929, Smith became vice president in charge of the southern division. He came to be known as the airline's best operations man. In 1934, he was tapped to take over the presidency of the newly organized American Airlines at the age of 35.* Deceased