Warner Cleveland Smith, Jr.
Warner Cleveland Smith, Jr., 70 died peacefully holding hands with
his wife, Sherry Shaw Smith in the early morning hours of September 4,
2011. Although fading into the grip of dementia the last three years, he
lived a full & happy life.
Cleveland ran amusement parks for a living and was instrumental in the
development of Six Flags over Texas. Cleve started with Six Flags Over
Texas the first day it opened in 1961 as a ride operator, then ride
In 1964 he became the New York World's Fair General Manager for Rides.
During 1966 to 1969 Cleveland was the General Manager and then promoted
to Operations Manager for Six Flags Over Georgia.
In 1969 Cleveland was promoted to Executive Vice President and member of
the Board of Directors of Six Flags Inc. In 1971 W. Cleveland Smith &
Associates was formed which later became Fun Corporation of America.
Cleveland also was the Vice President and member of the Board of
Directors with Wynne Enterprises, Inc., owned by Angus G. Wynne Jr., the
founder of Six Flags, from 1972 to 1982. Over the decades, one of his
best friends and mentors was Luther D. Clark.
Cleveland also held management roles at Lion Country Safari and Old
In 1982 Cleveland became the General Manager for the Entertainment Area
at the World's Fair in Knoxville, Tenn. From 1984 to 1989, he was the
President of the State Fair of Texas Midway games, novelties and
As Vice President of Overseas Development for Wet 'n Wild, Cleveland
worked closely with George Millay, the founder of Sea World and Wet'n
He traveled extensively for work and pleasure, visiting Brazil, Japan,
Alaska, Peru, Ecuador & Australia.
In his earlier years, Cleve worked on oil rigs, and as an assistant
purchasing agent for Neiman-Marcus wherein he was bonded to drive to
homes to deliver clothes, jewelry, shoes for the buyer's discretion.
Cleve was born in Jacksboro in 1941 because his father, Warner Cleveland
Smith insisted on seeing the birth and no hospital in Dallas at that
time would allow that. His mother Emma Jean (Powell) Smith was agreeable
to that game plan. Growing up in Dallas, Cleveland finished high school
in Dallas and studied business administration at the University of Texas
He is survived by his wife, Sherry Shaw Smith of Plano, Texas; daughter,
Amber Suriani of Manlius, NY; son, Trey Smith of Charlotte, NC; seven
grandchildren, two of whom have Cleveland as their middle name in his
honor; sister, Beverly Hendrickson of Terrell; and several nieces,
nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins. Also family to Cleveland were his
canine children, Cuervo who died last year, and Tag.
A Celebration of Life Memorial Service honoring Cleveland will be held
at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 17 at Ted Dickey West Funeral Home. On
Sept. 18 we will honor Cleveland's caregivers at Silverado Senior Living
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Warner
Cleveland Smith, Jr. Memorial Bench Fund, through Legacy Texas Bank
Plano, 1573 Alma Dr. Plano, Texas 75075. Memorial benches are being
created to place near the carousels in the amusement parks that were
dear to Cleveland and those innovators of the amusement industry with
whom he worked.
Ted Dickey West Funeral Home