Barbara Burnett Smith's picture

Barbara Burnett Smith

(Barbara Jo Petry)
USA flag (1947 - 2005)

The late Austin (TX) author Barbara Burnett Smith is best known for her novels set in the fictional Texas town of Purple Sage, wrote cozies. Titles of her books were taken from Zane Grey book titles and slightly modified.

A friend of hers, Jan Grape, says, "You don't want to make someone sound absolutely perfect, but Barbara was." She is greatly missed by the mystery writers community and her friends.

On February 19, 2005, Barbara and her husband, Gary Petry, drove to San Antonio to rescue an Airedale terrier. On the way back, they stopped at a local mystery bookstore and the dog jumped out of the car. But they had difficulty coaxing him back. It was dark and raining, and Smith, who was wearing dark clothing, stepped into the street. She was hit by a car and taken to the hospital, where she was pronounced brain-dead. On Sunday, in accordance with her wishes, her organs were donated to others.

Smith wrote mysteries, taught mystery writing, and worked as voice-over talent on Austin radio commercials. She also owned Catalyst Training & Development, a company that ran communication training classes and workshops. She was a former president of the international Sisters In Crime literary group.

Cooper, author of the Texas-based E. J. Pugh and Kimmey Kruse series of mysteries, who first became friends with Smith in 1989, remembers that she had a powerful effect on the Black Shoes. "One thing Barbara said going in was that she didn't want to do this group unless anything negative that was said, something positive had to be said to balance it out. And she was absolutely right. It was the most successful group I've ever been in. We were able to concentrate not just on the negative, as so often happens in writing groups, but on what was working, too."

Smith, whose real name was Barbara Jo Petry, is survived by her husband Gary, her son W.D., three stepdaughters, nine grandchildren and stepgrand children and her brother, Bruce.

Genres: Romance, Cozy Mystery
Anthologies edited