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Celebrating the life of
Vernon Allen Smith
April 29, 1954 - May 01, 2016
Services under the direction of:
Bradshaw Carter
(713) 521-0066
  • Memorial Service
  • 2:30pm - Saturday, May 07, 2016
  • Bradshaw Carter
  • 1734 W Alabama St (Map)
    Houston, Tx 77098

  • (713) 521-0066

I was so sad to hear of his passing, and his kindness and positivity and years of big smiles are going to be very missed. The Celtic Valor founders salute another brave soul lost, and thank you for the selfless gifts of his service and generosity. Much love to Deb, Donna and the Griff's family!

Raissa & the Celtic Valor crew, Houston, TX

Debra, we will miss Vernon he was a special person, always friendly helpful and sincere. You are in our thoughts.

Jim and Betty Curtin 300, Houston, Texas

I love my last conversation with Vern! It was on my bus around Xmas and I asked him if he remembered the first time we met. He thought for a while and said that it was at Griff's. I said that is wasn't, that it was actually one of the first years of Galveston's Mardi Gras (circa 85-88) and I saw this charming, fun, charismatic, well dressed (black trench coat, combat boots of sorts and a black beret) handsome man walking at the end of the parade as if he was part of it. He was all smiles and FUN and I just had to run up to him and tell him how cool he was. Anyways, telling Vern this on the bus- he actually remembered me coming up to him and saying that. Anyways, he also gave me some fatherly advice about how to be safe in my new bus. I just love how he watched out for everyone's well being! xoxoxoxoxooxx

Trevi and Becky, Houston, Tx

Vern was THE man. Always dapper, always cool as ice. Seems to be typical traits of FSU Seminoles! I loved every interaction. How many people can we say that about? I did not know until today that he spent so much of his life trying to save our captured soldiers. While it doesn't surprise me, it does leave me in further awe of such a class individual. I can only imagine how many lives he affected profoundly. Thank you, Vern, for your contributions. That kind of service truly leaves me in awe. You will forever be etched in my memory wearing a stylish suit, representin' the best this country has to offer.

Dean Theriot, Houston, TX

Vern you will be missed I have so many memories and I'm shock and can't believe your not here anymore Love You and Miss You... You were a blessing in my life and I will always take you with me. Anai and me we will always be your girls like you always said and it will stay like that forever My Prayers to he's family during this hard time. R.I.P Vern

Diana Gallardo, Houston , Tx

There are no words to adequately express our condolences. Our prayers and thoughts are with you during this difficult time.

Joe and Linda Castleberry , Trinity, Texas

Words cannot express how sorry I am. Vernon was such a special man with a kind word and a fabulous smile for everyone! thank you Vernon for your friendship and you will forever be in my heart! God bless you all! ❤️

Linda Sperling, Houston, Tx

Only have lived In Houston a short time . Vern was a true gentleman and made us feel so very welcomed . This gentleman will be truly missed . Our heart felt condolences go out to his family loved ones and all those who admired him. Rest in peace my friend .

George & Janae, Houston, Tx

Only have lived In Houston a short time . Vern was a true gentleman and made us feel so very welcomed . This gentleman will be truly missed . Our heart felt condolences go out to his family loved ones and all those who admired him. Rest in peace my friend .

George & Janae, Houston, Tx

Very sorry for your loss, our deepest sympathy.

Bryan & Judy Fore, Pearland, Texas

I have loved Vern since day 1 of me stepping into Griffs in June of 2007. He was a super kind hearted man. Vern has given me advice through the years like no other. Always had a smile on his face an gave a hug --no hand shake. I will always remember Vern through the rest of my life. Rest in peace my great friend.

Sam Thompson and Sandra Steely Thompson , Houston, Tx

Sorry to hear. Vern had a super kind soul. Condolences to his family and Griffs family.

Chris Alma, Sydney, Australia

Vern, you were an extraordinary man. I am so thankful for all the years I got spend with you and the twins. My sincere condolences to everyone who loved you, especially Deb and Donna. You will live on in my heart forever.

Mandy Berry, Galveston, tx

So sorry to hear of your tremendous loss Debra and family. Our thoughts and prayers are with ya'll at this time of such sadness.

TALLEY CONSTRUCTION, HOUSTON, TX

I just spoke to him Friday. I'm at a total loss for words and full of tears. I was at Kroger's with baby Jude (my two year old daughter) and I clearly had my hands full. Vern came up next to me and offered to get me a shopping cart. He didn't realize that I knew him and I mentioned that I recognized him from all the times at Griff's and thanked him for his kindness. He was so sweet, just as he always has been. Such a great man and an even greater loss. All of my love to Debra and the family. My heart breaks for you.

Cate Puckett, Houston, Tx

What a lovely tribute. He was such a happy guy and you could tell he was truly content with his life. Vern, we will miss your smile, your humor and your hugs. Love, light and prayers to all the people who loved him the most.

Libby Gentry, Nashville , TN

I will miss his warm, smiling, greeting that he always had when I saw him. He made you feel like you were best of friends. Debra and Donna my best to you two. I share in your grief. Mike

Mike Ruppel, Houston, Tx

Vernon was such a kind soul and sweet man. An infrequent but long-term member of the Griff's Army, Vernon always recognized me when I came in and made sure I was welcomed, doing well, asked about the family, and made me laugh. I thoughts, prayers, and deepest condolences are with you Deb, and Donna too, as well as all who considered Vern their family.

Michelle (Jackson) Parker and Family, Pearland, TX

Vern was such a wonderful person and will be sorely missed. He always treated me as he said "like family". My deepest condolences to Deb and Donna, family and friends.

Jason Foster, Houston, TX

I don't know of too many people I could talk too about my problems in life, but Vernon was one of them. He listened, offered guidance and has helped me on numerous occasions. They don't make great guys like him too often, he will surely be missed. Deb and Donna I offer my deepest condolences, I can only imagine the grief you have to endure.

James Tolbert, Houston, TX

I will miss Vern so very much. What a wonderful soul and bright light. Now he can shine down on us with JB. Love you Deb and Donna!

Kerri, Maya, and Rylan, Houston, TX

Vernon was an incredible person. I'l be thinking about him,Deb and Donna. My condolences to your friends and family.

Pat Ternus, Houston, TX

On May 1, 2016, we lost “Vern” as he was affectionately known to all in the Houston legal community and patrons of the famous Griff’s Shenanigans. He peacefully left this life and joined our Lord in Heaven on May 1, 2016 in Houston, TX, at the age of 62. Vern never met a stranger, especially the love of his life, Debra Jo Catlett. Vern was known and admired for his personal strength and for one of the most positive attitudes you will ever experience of those concerned about the human condition. We could only hope for people like Vernon Smith in our life, who overcame life’s obstacles and are an exemplar to us all. Vern, you will be greatly missed, but your kindness and gracious nature will be remembered forever!
Vern was born on Misawa Air Force Base in Japan on April 29, 1954, to his mother, Hiroko (“Mamasan”). Vernon moved to his first American home in Winchester, Kentucky in 1963, where he met and was mentored by his grandfather for whom he was named. He moved to Hammond, Indiana, during his high school years but returned to Winchester for his senior year, where he graduated in 1972. He early enrolled in the US Army immediately after graduation, but because he not 18, a recruiter named Norman Elliott visited his home to get his Mamasan’s consent. The recruiter fell in love with his Mamasan, and Norman Elliott became Vernon’s “Papasan” in 1973.
Vernon was the squad commander of a special US Army long-range reconnaissance patrol (“LLRP”) before and after the cease fire of the Vietnam War. His unit secretly parachuted into and worked only in Laos with the objective of search and rescue for US prisoners of war (“POWs”). He took “point” almost every day and deeply cared for his men and his mission. Vernon received commendations and was honorably discharged in 1975. Vern never forgot his Army skills and was able to hit a bull’s eye at 100 yards with an open-sighted AR15 only last year. Vernon was so proud to serve his country as a Japanese-American, and we are so honored that he did! Sine Pari!
Vern went to Florida State University where he received a degree in Criminology in 1979, and he even worked on the infamous Ted Bundy murder case while studying at FSU. Vernon was a proud member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity. When pledging, Vern was given the dubious task of obtaining Bobby Bowden’s signature, which of course he successfully did with his usual wit and charm. In 1998. Vern met the love of his life in Houston, attorney Debra Jo Catlett, and they became life mates and partners until his death. Vern not only became an integral part of Deb and her twin Donna’s life and legal and accounting business, but also the stewardship of Griff’s. He became Griff’s “Trivia Meister” in 2005 and he did over 550 Trivia Thursdays until his last trivia night on April 28th, 2016. He was known to research dozens of books and almanacs on world events and sports trivia every week to create such original questions that stumped his fans.
Vernon was a warrior who not only survived but never complained about life’s tough times. It was almost impossible to get him to say a bad thing about anyone. Vernon, we love you and will never forget you! He is survived by his mother, Hiroko Elliott; stepfather, Norman Elliott; sister, Chandra Iwsaki and his life partner, Debra Jo Catlett. We welcome you to a public visitation at 2:30 on Saturday, May 7, 2016, with a memorial service following at 3 pm at Bradshaw Carter Funeral home, 1734 West Alabama, Houston, TX 77098. A celebration of life will follow at Griff’s immediately after the service. In lieu of flowers, donations should be made to M.D. Anderson, Dori’s Darlings Cat Rescue, the Disabled Veterans of America and the USO, or a charity of your choice.

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Candle tribute lit by robert boyte — Texas

I was so sad to hear of his passing, and his kindness and positivity and years of big smiles are going to be very missed. The Celtic Valor founders salute another brave soul lost, and thank you for the selfless gifts of his service and generosity. Much love to Deb, Donna and the Griff's family!

Raissa & the Celtic Valor crew, Houston, TX

Debra, we will miss Vernon he was a special person, always friendly helpful and sincere. You are in our thoughts.

Jim and Betty Curtin 300, Houston, Texas

I love my last conversation with Vern! It was on my bus around Xmas and I asked him if he remembered the first time we met. He thought for a while and said that it was at Griff's. I said that is wasn't, that it was actually one of the first years of Galveston's Mardi Gras (circa 85-88) and I saw this charming, fun, charismatic, well dressed (black trench coat, combat boots of sorts and a black beret) handsome man walking at the end of the parade as if he was part of it. He was all smiles and FUN and I just had to run up to him and tell him how cool he was. Anyways, telling Vern this on the bus- he actually remembered me coming up to him and saying that. Anyways, he also gave me some fatherly advice about how to be safe in my new bus. I just love how he watched out for everyone's well being! xoxoxoxoxooxx

Trevi and Becky, Houston, Tx

Candle tribute lit by Marina Kolonsky — Texas

Candle tribute lit by Marina Kolonsky — Texas

Vern was THE man. Always dapper, always cool as ice. Seems to be typical traits of FSU Seminoles! I loved every interaction. How many people can we say that about? I did not know until today that he spent so much of his life trying to save our captured soldiers. While it doesn't surprise me, it does leave me in further awe of such a class individual. I can only imagine how many lives he affected profoundly. Thank you, Vern, for your contributions. That kind of service truly leaves me in awe. You will forever be etched in my memory wearing a stylish suit, representin' the best this country has to offer.

Dean Theriot, Houston, TX

Candle tribute lit by Melissa Higginson — Texas

Candle tribute lit by Celeste Llorens Richard — Texas

Candle tribute lit by Charles Garibay . God Bless — Texas

Candle tribute lit by Ashley and Elliot Harlan — Texas

Candle tribute lit by Diana Gallardo — Texas

Vern you will be missed I have so many memories and I'm shock and can't believe your not here anymore Love You and Miss You... You were a blessing in my life and I will always take you with me. Anai and me we will always be your girls like you always said and it will stay like that forever My Prayers to he's family during this hard time. R.I.P Vern

Diana Gallardo, Houston , Tx

Candle tribute lit by Roderick and Trina LeMond — Texas

There are no words to adequately express our condolences. Our prayers and thoughts are with you during this difficult time.

Joe and Linda Castleberry , Trinity, Texas

Candle tribute lit by Layne & Karl Sullivan Gross — Texas

Words cannot express how sorry I am. Vernon was such a special man with a kind word and a fabulous smile for everyone! thank you Vernon for your friendship and you will forever be in my heart! God bless you all! ❤️

Linda Sperling, Houston, Tx

Candle tribute lit by Linda Sperling — Texas

Only have lived In Houston a short time . Vern was a true gentleman and made us feel so very welcomed . This gentleman will be truly missed . Our heart felt condolences go out to his family loved ones and all those who admired him. Rest in peace my friend .

George & Janae, Houston, Tx

Only have lived In Houston a short time . Vern was a true gentleman and made us feel so very welcomed . This gentleman will be truly missed . Our heart felt condolences go out to his family loved ones and all those who admired him. Rest in peace my friend .

George & Janae, Houston, Tx

Very sorry for your loss, our deepest sympathy.

Bryan & Judy Fore, Pearland, Texas

I have loved Vern since day 1 of me stepping into Griffs in June of 2007. He was a super kind hearted man. Vern has given me advice through the years like no other. Always had a smile on his face an gave a hug --no hand shake. I will always remember Vern through the rest of my life. Rest in peace my great friend.

Sam Thompson and Sandra Steely Thompson , Houston, Tx

Candle tribute lit by Dena — Texas

Sorry to hear. Vern had a super kind soul. Condolences to his family and Griffs family.

Chris Alma, Sydney, Australia

Candle tribute lit by Mandy Berry — Texas

Vern, you were an extraordinary man. I am so thankful for all the years I got spend with you and the twins. My sincere condolences to everyone who loved you, especially Deb and Donna. You will live on in my heart forever.

Mandy Berry, Galveston, tx

So sorry to hear of your tremendous loss Debra and family. Our thoughts and prayers are with ya'll at this time of such sadness.

TALLEY CONSTRUCTION, HOUSTON, TX

I just spoke to him Friday. I'm at a total loss for words and full of tears. I was at Kroger's with baby Jude (my two year old daughter) and I clearly had my hands full. Vern came up next to me and offered to get me a shopping cart. He didn't realize that I knew him and I mentioned that I recognized him from all the times at Griff's and thanked him for his kindness. He was so sweet, just as he always has been. Such a great man and an even greater loss. All of my love to Debra and the family. My heart breaks for you.

Cate Puckett, Houston, Tx

Candle tribute lit by Janae Merchant — Texas

Candle tribute lit by Manetta Goodwin Noland — Louisiana

Candle tribute lit by Dana Barron — Texas

What a lovely tribute. He was such a happy guy and you could tell he was truly content with his life. Vern, we will miss your smile, your humor and your hugs. Love, light and prayers to all the people who loved him the most.

Libby Gentry, Nashville , TN

Candle tribute lit by Kathy Forster — Texas

I will miss his warm, smiling, greeting that he always had when I saw him. He made you feel like you were best of friends. Debra and Donna my best to you two. I share in your grief. Mike

Mike Ruppel, Houston, Tx

Vernon was such a kind soul and sweet man. An infrequent but long-term member of the Griff's Army, Vernon always recognized me when I came in and made sure I was welcomed, doing well, asked about the family, and made me laugh. I thoughts, prayers, and deepest condolences are with you Deb, and Donna too, as well as all who considered Vern their family.

Michelle (Jackson) Parker and Family, Pearland, TX

Candle tribute lit by Tom Kelley — Texas

Candle tribute lit by Sherry Peterson — Texas

Candle tribute lit by Eric Phillips — Texas

Vern was such a wonderful person and will be sorely missed. He always treated me as he said "like family". My deepest condolences to Deb and Donna, family and friends.

Jason Foster, Houston, TX

I don't know of too many people I could talk too about my problems in life, but Vernon was one of them. He listened, offered guidance and has helped me on numerous occasions. They don't make great guys like him too often, he will surely be missed. Deb and Donna I offer my deepest condolences, I can only imagine the grief you have to endure.

James Tolbert, Houston, TX

I will miss Vern so very much. What a wonderful soul and bright light. Now he can shine down on us with JB. Love you Deb and Donna!

Kerri, Maya, and Rylan, Houston, TX

Vernon was an incredible person. I'l be thinking about him,Deb and Donna. My condolences to your friends and family.

Pat Ternus, Houston, TX


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