Smilies create scholarship to honor parents

Education was extremely important to Joe and Estell Smilie, and agriculture was Joe’s passion. He spent 32 years with the LSU AgCenter’s Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service as

Kathy Smilie, Peyton Beattie and Clay Smilie. Beattie is the first student to benefit from the Smilie's scholarship.Photo by Tobie Blanchard

an agricultural engineer, traveling the state and the world improving agriculture and education.
Smilie’s son, Clay, and daughter-in-law, Kathy, are honoring the Smilies with a scholarship in their name. The Joseph L. and Estell W. Smilie Memorial Scholarship will benefit a student enrolled in the LSU College of Agriculture.
“My parents’ passion and commitment to hard work and LSU will continue for years to come through the students who receive this scholarship,” Clay Smilie said.
Joe and Estell Smilie both were from Alabama. They came to Louisiana so Joe could pursue a master of science degree in agricultural engineering. Clay Smilie said his father enjoyed working with the agents in each parish and was thankful for the opportunity to work internationally as well.
The Smilies spent nearly three years in Malaysia while Joe taught at the College of Agriculture in Serdang. They spent another two in Sri Lanka at the Paddy Marketing Board in Colombo where he was involved in the country’s rice industry. They spent another two years in Jamaica where he worked to improve banana production. Clay said his father also worked in various countries in West Africa on shorter assignments.
Estell accompanied her husband around the world but also was employed by LSU, working in various departments while in Baton Rouge.
The Smilies had three children. Clay is the youngest. He and his sister, Linda Heisel, and his brother, Bob Smilie, all graduated from LSU. Clay said his parents stressed the importance of education.
Clay and Kathy established the scholarship as a planned gift. They said now was the time to get the paperwork in order since they decided to endow the scholarship.
“In this way, many generations of students can receive financial assistance while earning their degree,” Clay said.
He said they hope to help students who are committed to working hard, learning beyond the classroom, exchanging knowledge and sharing experiences throughout their careers, which is how he describes his father.
Clay said because his parents were humble people, he thinks they would be a bit surprised about the scholarship.
“I know they would be very appreciative and honored. In general, to have a scholarship of any kind established in their name would be meaningful to them,” he said. “More specifically, given my father's long career in agriculture, he would be pleased that this effort is being made to support education in his chosen field.”