Robert F. Schmidt, 81, school principal

March 15, 2000|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Robert Francis Schmidt, retired principal of Samuel Gompers Vocational School, died in his sleep Sunday of an apparent heart attack at his Wiltondale home in Baltimore County. He was 81.

An educator who worked in the classroom until he was in his 70s, he taught by his own standard, the three A's -- acceptance, affection and approval.

"He was consistently cheerful, optimistic and caring," said Joanne Chapline, a Baltimore County teacher and colleague. "He shared his wisdom and saw the good in children."

Born in Baltimore and raised on Fort Avenue, he was a graduate of Southern High School. He received a bachelor's degree in industrial education and a master's degree in educational administration at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Known as "Smiley" Schmidt, he began his teaching career in the 1930s at Public School No. 3, Patterson Park Avenue and Biddle Street. He was principal of the Alicia Crossland School, Fayette and Greene streets. He became principal of the Gompers School, North Avenue and Broadway, in the 1970s.

After he retired from the city schools, he taught at the Good Shepherd Center in Arbutus.

He was popular with his students, who stayed in touch with him long after they graduated, seeking his advice on their lives, professions and schooling.

Mr. Schmidt was also a musician. As a young man he played the bass fiddle at local dances and social gatherings to help pay his college tuition. He enjoyed being with people and continued to play for many years.

He became a Mason and was a member of the Millington Lodge and the Scottish Rite.

Wearing a tall white hat, he led Masonic brass bands in holiday parades around the state. He also played percussion in the marching units.

He was a member of the Paint and Powder Club, a Baltimore amateur theatrical group, and played the bass in its annual shows. He was featured in its Uptown String Band.

"I never saw the man frown," said Paint and Powder president Kandi Slade. "He would smile from ear to ear."

A captain in the Army, he served in World War II and the Korean War. He was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

He was married for 52 years to Doris V. Miller, also a city schools teacher, who died in 1994.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. today at Trinity Episcopal Church, 120 Allegheny Ave., Towson

He is survived by two daughters, Cynthia A. Patzkowsky and Claire I. Hudson, both of Towson; and four grandchildren.

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