American Humanist Association represents Birdville student

Smith protest

Isaiah Smith at a protest last year

An attorney for the American Humanist Association sent a complaint to Birdville ISD in Tarrant County about the suspension of a North Richland Hills student.

Isaiah Smith was suspended after he ripped pages out of his Bible. Smith said the incident began when he was taunted and told he couldn’t be gay and Christian.

The American Humanist Association called the suspension for ripping a Bible a violation of First Amendment free speech rights. The attorney demands any record of the suspension be removed from Smith’s record. The full letter is here.

Comments to a previous Dallas Voice post and emails after that item ran indicate how emotionally charged the issue is. Numerous posters commented on Smith’s behavior in school.

He “doesn’t stand for the pledge or the U.S. national anthem, which shows much disrespect to this country,” one wrote.

“Isaiah Smith is not a saint,” Ashley Wilmot wrote in an email and described disruptive behavior by Smith in class and in band.

Other commenters were blatantly ignorant of the topic or used the language of bullies playing victim.

“I have a question for you, when you get older and have a mate, how are you both going to learn the beauty that lies within the struggle of loving the opposite sex?” Birgit Sellers asked in a comment.

Smith is openly gay and made news last year when he petitioned the Keller City Council to pass a nondiscrimination ordinance.

—  David Taffet

Deaths • W.D. “David” Walls, Dr. Kenneth Ellery Riha

W.D.-David-Walls-obitW.D. “David” Walls, 54, died of cancer on Sept. 6 at JPS Hospital in Fort Worth.

Born Dec. 13, 1956, Walls had lived in the Fort Worth area all his life. He graduated from Springtown High School in Springtown, and later from Tarrant County College in Fort Worth.
He owned his own business, and he and Terry Mills were legally married March 26, 2010, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Walls was preceded in death by his father, W.D. Walls Sr.; and his brothers, Terry Walls Sr. and Marvin Walls.

He is survived by his spouse, Terry Mills-Walls, of North Richland Hills; his brother, Trevor Walls of Fort Worth; his nephews, Terry Walls Jr. of Azle and Phillip Steele of Fort Worth; his nieces, Shana Thompson of Azle and Caressa Walls Holland of Trophy Club; his sister-in-law, Ina Walls; his aunt, Dora Walls of Athens, Texas; and his cousins, Jenny Wiles of Bedford, and Kristy and Vance Fincher and Elizabeth Schultz, all of Athens, Texas.

A private memorial service will be held Sunday, Oct. 2, from noon to 4 p.m. in Keller.

……………………………………….

Dr. Kenneth Ellery Riha, D.D.S., 48, died peacefully in his sleep of heart failure on Sept. 6 while celebrating his birthday with friends and colleagues in Cancun.

Born Sept. 10, 1962 in Houston to JoAnn Marie Riha and Ellery Robert Riha, Riha graduated from Klein Forest High School in 1981, received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Texas A&M University in 1986 and earned a doctorate of dental science from the University of Texas Dental School in San Antonio in 1990. He established Dental Solutions in Dallas on June 6, 1997. Riha believed a smile should be the universal language and devoted his career to improving the health, well-being, and self-esteem of others through dentistry. He felt it important to provide a soothing atmosphere, creating an exclusive doctor-patient communication and singular focus by scheduling only one patient at a time.

Ken-Riha-obitRiha was an alumnus of X Psi Phi Dental Fraternity, served as president of the fraternity from 1988 to 1989 and rush chairman from 1989 to 1990. In 1990, he joined the American Dental Association, the Texas Dental Association and the Dallas County Dental Society. He served on the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio Alumni Advisory Board from 1992 to 1995.

Riha served as the clinician host for the Southwest Dental Conference in 2008 and 2009, and was a host committee volunteer at the ADA Session in San Antonio in 2008. He was highly respected by his peers and was very proud to have received Texas Monthly Magazine’s distinguished “Texas Super Dentist” Award in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Riha lived life in a playful manner and had a zest for pulling pranks. His biggest passions were Texas A&M University, travel and charity. He graduated in the Fighting Texas Aggie Class of ’86 and bled maroon. He was a Century Club member of the Texas A&M University Former Student Association and was known to turn his phone off during Aggie football games, so he could watch and cheer without interruption.

He vacationed with family and friends around the world and his favorite destinations were Greece, Hawaii, Italy, Mexico, Spain and the Caribbean Islands. He thoroughly enjoyed skiing the slopes of Beaver Creek, Deer Valley, Park City, Santa Fe, Sundance, Taos, Vail and Vancouver. He also cherished his visits to New Orleans, Lansing and McComb, Miss.

Riha’s door was always open to his family and friends through losses, challenges, disappointments, tribulations, triumphs and celebrations. He was a rock of support for his friends and a remarkably fun-loving, kind, compassionate and giving soul. His drive, tenacity and determination were an inspiration to all who knew him. He believed in helping those less fortunate and gave generously to the St. Jude Children’s Hospital. He co-hosted Blend-A-Rama for many years, with proceeds going to the Bryan’s House and Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS/Dallas.

Riha believed his time on earth was not without predestined purpose and assignment. He came and enveloped people with his contagious smile and embraced them in his infectious laughter. He never met a stranger and celebrated the differences in all he encountered. Though his physical presence is no longer here, you can still feel his gentleness in the calm winds, see his smile in the rising sun, hear his words of comfort in the soft singing of the wind chime and celebrate his life with your next smile.

Riha was preceded in death by his grandparents, Sophie and Robert Riha and Francis and Lawrence Grall.

He is survived by his mother, JoAnn Riha, and Jim Ingham; his father, Ellery Riha, and wife Alice; his sister, Theresa Riha; his brothers, Stephen Riha and wife Bridget, and Michael Riha; his step-brother, Kevin Goss and wife Jody; his step-sister Stephanie Doyle and husband Brian; his nieces, Baileigh Sophie and Peighton Grace Riha, Emily Goss and Madison Doyle; his nephews, Jacob Goss and Christian Doyle; his aunts, Colette Riha, Dolores Kupsh and husband Harry, and Kathy Grall; and numerous loving extended family members and dear friends.

Friends are invited to join the family for a celebration of Riha’s life Saturday, Sept. 24, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Dallas World Aquarium, 1801 N. Griffin St. Donations in his memory can be made to St. Jude Children’s Hospital (StJude.org), DIFFA/Dallas (DIFFADallas.org) or Bryan’s House (BryansHouse.org.

—  Kevin Thomas