For Father’s Day, today’s blog post is about my dad. Actually, I’m going to start with this photo of my dad, my grandfather, and my great grandfather…..all Schmidts.
Left to right: Richard Schmidt, Emanuel Schmidt, and Gottwerth Schmidt
My dad, Richard Heinrich Schmidt, was born on January 4, 1913 and baptized at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wittenberg, Missouri. He would attend the Lutheran school that was operated by St. Paul’s. In a previous post, I wrote about Teacher Stohs – Dad’s Teacher.
This family photo must have been taken when Dad was still in Teacher Stohs’ class. Dad is the one to the left of my Aunt Hildegard, who has her hand in front of her face.
In 1928, when Dad was just 15 years old, he lost his father who died that year. Recently, I wrote another post which focused on my grandmother, Bertha Schmidt. It was titled, The Loebs-Schmidt Connection. Emanuel’s death left Bertha as a 50 year old widow. She would never remarry.
Dad is not listed in the 1930 census with his mother and siblings when he would have been 17 years old. I have not been able to determine where he was during that census. However, recently, I discovered that an article printed in a Perry County Republican article from 1931 that said that he came home from West Point, Nebraska along with his brother, Arnold, to visit his mother. That means that my father was one of many young men from Perry County who traveled to that part of Nebraska to find work during that time period. My dad never told me about that experience, but it does explain a trip my family took to visit some people in West Point, Nebraska when I was a youngster.
In the 1940 census we find him working as a hired hand on the Emil Bollefer farm in Jefferson County, Missouri.
I have discovered that Joseph Ferdinand Poppitz of Perry County had married Emil’s sister, Hannah, so that is probably how we connect Dad to this family. One of his army records says that Dad was working in Kimmswick, Missouri.
Although he rarely talked about it, one of the most defining time periods of Dad’s life was his service in the U.S. Army during World War II. He enlisted, went through Jefferson Barracks, and served his country faithfully. He spent his active duty starting in North Africa and then into Italy. Here is a map that describes where he spent his time.
Dad was part of the 1st Armored Division, which also had the nickname “Old Ironsides”. He drove a truck which was used to transport injured soldiers as is described in this piece of paperwork my father received when he left the service.
As near as I can tell from Dad’s service records, he began his military service in April of 1942. In July of 1945 he was back on American soil. One of the most horrific battles in which Dad was involved was at Anzio Beach in Italy.
I have found several photos of Dad in his military uniform. One of the things I have learned is that members of the 1st Armored Division always wore their hats on the left side of their head. In all the photos where Dad is wearing a hat, this is the case. The first four photos were taken in Perry County, and I believe they were taken at the Rudi Schilling farm place. They are all labeled on the back as being developed in “Summer 1942”. Dad left for Europe on April 2, 1943. I am not sure when the other photos were taken.
Dad earned five Bronze Stars and a Good Conduct Medal while in the military. And, by the way, Dad never told me about those commendations. I am very proud of him for serving his country so well.
After returning to the States, it was not long before Dad got married. On May 10, 1947, he married Eleonora Kieffer at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in St. Louis.
I am one of three children born into this family. Dad was employed at Emerson Electric for 35 years, and our family lived in Jennings. We were members of St. Jacobi Lutheran Church and we kids also attended their Lutheran school.
Here is a family photo taken during the era of black and white photography. My brother is Dennis, and my sister is Marilyn.
And one taken later in color.
After retirement, Dad and Mom moved to Florida. Here is a photo of Mom and Dad taken in 1995.
At the end of their lives, they were living at Lutheran Haven in Oviedo, Florida. They are buried in a cemetery near there.
Dad was always a soft-spoken guy whose actions spoke much louder than his words. I like to think that he had that good, old-fashioned Perry County work ethic. He was a man of faith to the very end and proved to be a great example for me to follow.