From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Smith, Robert Willis, Jr.

(born: October 10, 1923  -  died: February 6, 1998) 

Born in Indiana, Robert W. Smith Jr. became the first African American to own an automobile dealership in Louisville, KY. In 1971 Smith purchased the Universal Chevrolet dealership and became president of the Bob Smith Chevrolet Company, Inc. He was the third African American to own a Chevrolet dealership in the United States. The company had 56 employees in 1975 with the gross sales totaling $4,490,000. The firm ranked 53rd in Black Enterprise Magazine's "Top 100" black-owned or black-managed business in gross sales in 1974. It was one of five times that the firm ranked in the "Top 100."

Robert Willis Smith, Jr. was the son of Robert Sr. and Esther E. Dixon Smith.  

For more see The Encyclopedia of Louisville, ed. by J. E. Kleber;  Profiles of Contemporary Black Achievers of Kentucky, by J. B. Horton; "Black History Month: Robert W. Smith, Jr., 1923-1998," The Courier-Journal, 02/10/2011, p.B3; Art Ehrenstrom, "Local firm makes 'Top 100' list," The Courier-Journal, 07/06/1975, p.E5; Katherine L. Sears, "Chevrolet dealership owner Bob Smith dies," The Courier-Journal, 02/07/1998, p.B4.

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Smith, Robert Willis, Jr.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 13, 2024,

Last modified: 2024-02-12 21:49:41