North woods pastor, Fr. Gerald Schmidt, dies
Wabeno, Lakewood pastor remembered as being a friend to everyone
By Tony Staley
Friendly, outgoing and personable are how family and friends describe Fr. Gerald Schmidt,
OFM,Cap., who died May 13.
Fr. Schmidt, 61, had served for the last 10 years as pastor of St. Ambrose Parish, Wabeno. For
the last few years, he also served as pastor of St. Mary of the Lakes Parish, Lakewood, and its
stations at Crooked Lake and Silver Cliff.
"He was wonderful, a very gentle, kind man," said Kendra Yingling, parish secretary at
Dcn. Harold Orlowski, who serves at Lakewood and its stations, said Fr. Schmidt "was gentle,
like a fluff-ball, perhaps over gentle. He was friendly and comical and he liked to have fun."
Although Fr. Schmidt's primary ministry was in Wabeno - visiting priests preside at most of the
weekend Masses in Lakewood and its stations - he did celebrate Masses periodically in the
parish, Dcn. Orlowski said.
Fr. Schmidt also got to know people, Dcn. Orlowski said, "by traveling the circuit, meeting
people in restaurants. His ministry was out in the field in restaurants and he had a good appetite.
He was well-liked."
Fr. Schmidt's sister, Jean Schumacher of Germantown, called her brother, "a big man with an
even bigger heart. He loved everybody. He was a friend to everybody. No matter what they were
or who they were. He found good in everybody."
Beyond that, Schumacher said, "As a family, we're going to miss him. He loved his dog, Duffy,
and his cat, Bismarck, very much. They were his companions at the house. He was a fantastic son
and an excellent brother to us, and he was a very caring uncle. He enjoyed life and he enjoyed
people to no end."
Fr. Schmidt was born Feb. 25, 1939, in Elcho, to Glenn and Elsie (Boomer) Schmidt. He
graduated from St. Mary School in Menomonee Falls and St. Lawrence Seminary High School,
before entering the Capuchin Novitiate at Baraga, Mich., in 1959.
He was ordained Oct. 6, 1966, at St. Mary Church, Marathon, as a priest of the Capuchin
Province of St. Joseph, based in Detroit.
Following his ordination, he served as a chaplain at St. Michael Hospital, Milwaukee; St. Mary
Hospital, Wausau; Marquette General Hospital, Marquette, Mich.; and St. Elizabeth Hospital,
Washington, D.C. He served for 13 years at St. Joseph Friary in Detroit and briefly as pastor at
Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Detroit before becoming pastor at Wabeno in 1990.
He was a Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus at Antigo.
He is survived by his sisters, Jean, and Karen (Mark) Walter, Hartfod, Wis.; a brother, Dean
(Susan) Schmidt, Davenport, Iowa; four aunts, an uncle, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Fr. Perry McDonald, OFM,Cap., vicar provincial, officiated and preached at the Mass of Christian Burial on May 17. Bp. Robert Banks said the final commendation. Burial is at 1 p.m. Thursday, May 18, at Holy Cross Cemetery in Mount Calvary.