Fort Worth

Well-Known Fort Worth Gospel Singer Killed by Suspected Drunk Driver

Friends and family in Fort Worth are mourning a well-known gospel singer, who was killed by a suspected drunk driver over the weekend.

Finis Smith was a leading voice in Fort Worth's gospel community, working to revitalize the African-American spiritual. He was also a brother, cousin and friend, taken in the most senseless way.

When tragedy strikes, it helps to keep routines going. In the Smith household, that means music.

"We're pretty much a musical family," said Smith's first cousin, Lorraine Miller.

Finis Smith was at the heart of it.

"He loved music, he loved to see people, he loved hymns," said Smith's brother, Eddie Smith.

Finis Smith was heading home from an African Art festival on Saturday, driving north on Riverside Drive, when he was hit head-on by a suspected drunk driver who had crossed over the center line.

The driver, Roberto Ortiz-Morales, was arrested and charged with intoxication manslaughter. Finis Smith died at the scene. He was 68 years old.

"A wonderful, thoughtful, musically talented man's life was snuffed out because of this guy's carelessness, and that should not stand," said Miller, who was also the first African-American clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Now, while the family waits for justice, they're focused on honoring Finis Smith's memory.

"He knew everything that was going on," said Miller. "Anybody that was having a baby, or if someone died, he was about giving and service."

A retired math teacher who dove into music, he sang, played the organ and piano, and conducted for several different groups, including the Adlee Trezevant Memorial Concert Choir, composed of alumni from IM Terrell High School.

"Very dedicated and he was very, very supportive," said friend and fellow musician, Mark Davis.

Finis Smith was Davis's mentor, sharing a love from classical hymns to African-American spirituals, and when Smith sang, it was usually Davis accompanying him on the piano.

Now Davis will play on, carrying his mentor as one more echo from the past.

Finis Smith's funeral will be Saturday, Oct. 8 at 11 a.m. at Mount Zion Baptist Church.

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