Wayne H. Smith, a WWII hero who later established the highly respected Midwestern flooring company C&F Distributors, died Feb. 11, in Tulsa, Okla., due to complications from a stroke. He was 75.

A native of Paola, Kan., who was affectionately known as "Smitty," Smith worked in the flooring business for more than 50 years. He began his career with the William Volker Co. in 1953, and in 1965 he founded C&F Distributors in Oklahoma City. Under Smith's leadership, the company grew to include branches in Tulsa and Little Rock, Ark. The company, which specializes in installation supplies, is widely regarded as one of the top Midwest distributors in the industry.

Prior to entering the flooring business, Smith served his country as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division during WWII. He was honored with two Purple Hearts for his heroism and bravery. After returning home, he earned a Bachelors degree in Business from Kansas University in 1950.

In his spare time Smith enjoyed fishing and was a fan of horse racing and owned a thoroughbred racehorse at one time. He was a member of Faith United Methodist Church in Tulsa. Friends fondly recall his gift for storytelling and his hearty, deep-voiced laugh.

The older of 2 sons, Smitty was born to Everett and Stella Smith on June 2, 1920 in Paola, Kan. He was preceded in death by his wife, Helen "Elise"; a daughter, Elise Ann Paul; and his parents. He is survived by a son, Richard Wayne Smith of Oklahoma City; two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. The family has advised that memorial contributions may be made to Faith United Methodist Church, Tulsa.