Homegrown folk figure Barney Smith, owner and proprietor of the Toilet Seat Art Museum, died Tuesday evening. The retired master plumber ran the museum from the garage of his home in Alamo Heights from 1992 until earlier this year, when the collection of well over 1,000 toilet seats was relocated
to The Truck Yard
restaurant in The Colony, which is about a 15-minute drive outside of Dallas.
Smith's unique assemblage art is world famous, but San Antonians held him in particular regard for his warm, open personality. Rather than hold regular operating hours, Smith would make appointments with anyone who wished to view the collection and personally walk them through the ever-growing trove of embellished toilet seats, which he would often stay up into the wee hours of the night to construct.
In addition to the now relocated collection, the "King of the Commode's" toilet seats were chronicled in a book
that was funded on Kickstarter
in early 2018. This spring he also crossed into true Internet fame when he was immortalized
in meme form.
Smith's family shared the news of his death on the museum's Facebook page
with a post that included his favorite poem, Rudyard Kipling's "When Earth's Last Picture Is Painted," which he memorized as a child and would often recite
to museum visitors. A memorial service has not yet been announced.
Stay on top of San Antonio news and views. Sign up for our Weekly Headlines Newsletter.