The Chief Engineer who put WLBT on the air back in 1953 turned 99 years old today, and Bob Smathers has fond memories of those early days of television.
Smathers moved to Mississippi from Kentucky when he was two years old. That was in 1916.
He celebrated his 99th birthday recalling some of the old times for WLBT, which he put on the air December the 19th, 1953.
Smathers still gets around at his home on Lebanon-Pine Grove Road in rural Hinds County even though he suffers from macular degeneration and has limited eyesight.
He is also hard of hearing, but at 99 he remembers the people he worked for at Lamar Life Insurance Company, Wiley Harris and Pete Lutken, who bought him the best equipment money could buy for the new television station which he meant to be number one from the beginning.
"We had the best channel, the best transmitter, the maximum power and all of that," said Smathers. "And it came to pass thanks to the support I had."
Smathers also shared with us one of the reasons for his long life.
"Modern medical technology, administered in a timely and skillful way," said Smathers. "And attitude with Christianity behind it."
Bob Smathers, still going at 99, and a man convinced he will live to be 100.
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