‘She was the queen of the Cougars’

Wilhelmina Daisy Cullen Robertson Smith was 16 years old when she witnessed her father, Hugh Roy Cullen’s first major philanthropic gift to the University of Houston.’ Since that day the Cullen family’s contribution to the development of UH was and is without compare.’ Smith died Monday in her home. She was 86 years old.

UH President and UH Systems Chancellor Renu Khator address the University about Smith’s passing.

‘The University of Houston family is saddened to learn of the death on Monday of Wilhelmina Cullen Robertson Smith, matriarch of the Cullen family and one of our most devoted friends and supporters,’ Khator said in a press release. ‘I know you join me in expressing our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to Mr. Smith and the extended Cullen family at the passing of this most beloved and remarkable lady.’

The last living child of H.R. Cullen and his wife Lillie Cranz, Smith was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, aunt. Smith was also a devoted Cougar fan.

‘I would think that she would want to be remembered by Cougars and a Cougar alumn, as a Cougar fan and supporter, and she would want everyone to be as proud of the university as she was,’ Smith’s daughter, UH Regent Beth Robertson said. ‘She was the queen of the Cougars, and her spirit will always be there.’ She would want them all to be the best that they can be. She had a lot of faith in everybody.’

Smith was born on Dec. 3, 1922 in Houston. She attended The Kinkaid School and graduated from Dana Hall in Wellesley, Mass. She left Sweet Briar College in Virginia at the beginning of World War II and returned to Texas to finish college, graduating from UH.

Smith served as the first Trustee of Agriculture for the Cullen Foundation alongside her older sisters Agnes and Margaret at its inception in 1947.

The foundation’s $160 million gift to UH was the University’s largest endowment and, at the time, one of the largest in the United States.

‘She grew up with UH, within all the philanthropy that her parents were engaged in,’ Robertson said. ‘Her advice would be for everyone to do the best that they can, and to give back as she gave back, how she learned from her parents to give back. That’s what she told everybody their duty was ‘- to make the world a better place than what it was when you got there.’

Smith was married June 6, 1945 to U.S. Air Corps Captain Corbin James Robertson and was with him until his death in 1991.

After years of’ philanthropy throughout Houston and beyond, Smith retired from the Cullen Foundation in 1997. That same year, she met Edgar A. Smith and the two married in April 2008.

Smith was preceded in death by her parents and siblings:’ Roy Gustav Cullen, Lillie Cullen di Portanova, Agnes Cullen Arnold, and Margaret Cullen Marshall; her husband, Corbin James Robertson; and her great grandson, Corbin James Robertson IV.

She is survived by her husband, Edgar A. Smith; her children Wilhelmina Elizabeth Robertson, Corbin James Robertson, Jr. and his wife Barbara , Lillie Therese Robertson, Carroll Christine Robertson Ray and her husband Hugh, and Alison Susan Robertson Baumann and her husband Peter and her grandchildren.

‘What meant so much to her were the people produced out of University of Houston,’ Robertson said.

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