Eugene Smith

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Jesse Eugene Smith, Jr.

Mayor of Arcadia, Bienville Parish
In office
January 2003 – April 2018
Succeeded by O'Landis "Bubba" Millican

Born May 27, 1933
Driskill Mountain Community

Bienville Parish

Died April 23, 2018 (aged 84)
Shreveport, Louisiana
Nationality American
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Billie Nichols Smith (married 1953-2018, his death)
Alma mater Arcadia High School

Louisiana Tech University

Occupation Government official


Religion Southern Baptist

Jesse Eugene Smith, Jr., known as Eugene Smith (May 27, 1933 – April 23, 2018), was a state and local government official in his native Louisiana. As the mayor of his adopted city of Arcadia, the seat of government for Bienville Parish, Smith sought to expand economic development.


Smith was born in the community about Driskill Mountain, which at 525 feet in elevation is the tallest point in Louisiana. His parents were Jesse Smith, Sr., and the former Maxine Crawford.[1] He and his younger brother, Ray Dean Smith (1936-2008), who was mayor of Arcadia from 1976 to 1994,[2] played as children in the red clay dirt of the rolling hill country of north Louisiana during a time when things seemed so much simpler. In 1946, the Smiths moved to Arcadia, where he graduated in 1953 from Arcadia High School. That same year, he wed the former Billie Nichols, who survives him. He was drafted into the United States Army, and in 1954 the couple had their first child, Milton Eugene Smith, while Smith was stationed at Fort Dix, New Jersey. The Smiths returned to Arcadia in 1955; he opened the former Smith Grocery Store and attended Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. Their second child, Sheri Ann Smith Taylor, was born in 1959 in Arcadia. They have four grandchildren and a great-grandchild. Smith was an accountant for H. R. Hayes Lumber Company in Arcadia and worked for Firestone in both Arcadia and Minden, and later returned to work for H. R. Hayes at its Monroe location.[1]

Government service

In 1963, Smith embarked on a new career as a driver's license examiner and was promoted to regional inspector and administrator of Field Services. He retired in 1990 as the assistant administrator of the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles. In 1992, Governor Edwin Edwards appointed Smith, his fellow Democrat, as the executive director of the Louisiana Motor Vehicle Commission. Smith was elected as a justice of the peace for Bienville Parish, and in 2002 was elected without opposition as the mayor of Arcadia. At the time of his death, Smith was nearing the end of his fourth term in the office. He was a member of the executive board of the Louisiana Municipal Association. He was affiliated with Scripture Memory Fellowship, International of Garland, Texas, and the United Theological Seminary and Bible College in Monroe. Republican Governor Bobby Jindal named him to the Louisiana Entrepreneur and Small Business Commission. Smith was a member of the Arcadia Baptist Church, Lions International, the Masonic lodge, the American Legion, and the Chamber of Commerce.

Smith worked to attract new businesses and industries to locate in Arcadia. His nephew, Christopher "Chris" Smith, son of Ray Dean Smith, was the Arcadia development director. [2] In his first mayoral campaign, Smith used the slogan "Watch Arcadia Grow." He considered the building of the Arcadia Events Center as his greatest achievement in office. He also supervised the refurbishing of the Arcadia Outlet Mall, which the town of Arcadia purchased.

Smith died in a Shreveport hospital of complictions from a lung infection. He was just over a month shy of his 85th birthday.[2] His services were held on April 29, 2018, at the Arcadia Events Center.

State Representative Patrick Jefferson, an African-American Democrat, was hired by Smith as the first black attorney for the town after Jefferson fled New Orleans for Arcadia during Hurricane Katrina. Jefferson recalled that "Everybody knew Eugene Smith. He had the kind of personality that made you think he'll be around forever. He mastered the art of being a public service. His death leaves a huge void."[2]

Governor John Bel Edwards called Smith "an exceptional leader who proudly served all of the people of Arcadia and the neighboring communities with compassion and a true concern for improving their lives. Donna and I send our condolences to Billie, his wife of sixty-four years. Together, they were a formidable team. ... Eugene not only served as mayor for [nearly] sixteen years, but he was also part of the executive board of the Louisiana Municipal Association. He worked hard every day to make Arcadia and other Louisiana communities economically viable, great places to live, work and raise families."[2]

Five Democrats ran in the November 6, 2018, primary election to choose Smith's successor. In addition to his nephew Christopher "Chris" Smith, the candidates include DeAndre Alexander, Gary Carlisle, Doris "Amanda" Eastman, and O'Landis "Bubba" Millican. The top two vote-getters, Millican (39 percent) and Carlisle (21 percent) met in a December 8 runoff election in which Millican prevailed.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Eugene Smith, Jr.'s Obituary. The Shreveport Times (April 28, 2018).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Greg Hilburn (April 23, 2018). Arcadia Mayor Eugene Smith dies. The Monroe News-Star. Retrieved on April 28, 2018.