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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Remembering Dr. Fred Schmidt

As I write this I just received news of the death of a saint—Dr. Fred Schmidt, beloved former Superintendent of Lakeshore Schools, retiree, Realtor, retiree, and all the while, churchman extraordinaire. When Carol and I first came to this area, Dr. Fred was one of the first people we met. Many newcomers to First Church of God say the same thing. He looked for new people and made us all feel welcome with his friendly smile, warm handshake and cheerful voice. He had the gift of hospitality and used it for years in our congregation and throughout our community. Even people in our community who never knew Dr. Fred benefited greatly from his life through his positive influence on students, co-workers, and employees.

While Superintendent, Dr. Fred helped start Lakeshore Rotary Club. Their website reads, “In 1973, Bill Galbreath and Fred Schmidt both worked in the Superintendent’s Office at Lakeshore Schools. Bill commented to Fred, ‘We should have a Rotary Club in the Lakeshore Area’….Fred was convinced. Despite invitations to join the St Joseph/Benton Harbor Club, Bill and Fred persisted in forming a new club.”

I’m not surprised Dr. Fred helped start a “service” club. That fits.

Many people knew Fred and Norma as the friendly couple who drove the beautiful old car in the Blossomtime Parade and area events. This year, they were Honorary Grand Marshalls—once again riding in their 1930 Model A Sport Coupe.

Fred and Norma came to the area in 1973 to be Superintendent at Lakeshore School System. They quickly become a special part of our community.

Often when our church missionaries gathered to go on a mission trip to some far-off place like Mexico, Paraguay, Atlanta, or West Virginia, Fred would be there early to see them off and join in prayer for their safety, the success of their venture and for them to have a wonderful time doing good mission work. Most youth and even some adults probably knew little or nothing about Fred’s great contribution to our community and to our congregation—he was just the friendly man who exuded love and joy—and made them feel loved by the entire congregation.

Fred represented his Lord and Savior well in everything he did.

For years he’s been one of our best teachers—along with his beloved wife Norma. They were a marvelous team in the adult Sunday School class, and led one of our most successful, enduring and largest Life Groups.

When I visited him in the hospital just hours before his death, I asked how I should pray. He said, “Pray I can accept God’s will.” That was the story of his life. He always wanted to be centered in God’s will, serving him not only whole-heartedly, but with joyful exuberance. I’m just sorry I didn’t stay longer and be there for his promotion to Glory. I’m sure the Lord Jesus came personally to welcome him home and see him safely to the other side. It would have been good to be present for such a meeting, even if I couldn’t see all that was happening, I know it would have been a special moment—perhaps shared by his recently departed friend Don Goetz.

What Paul wrote to Timothy (II Timothy 4:7&8) could have been written for Dr. Fred: “7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”

Dr. Fred was a great example of practical sainthood. One of many I've known and a great example for all of us in this community he quickly learned to love. Goodbye Brother. We'll miss you, but we'll see you in the morning.

I'm Rick Blumenberg . . .and that's My View from Tanner Creek.

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