The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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May 19, 2000 Issue
Local News

North woods pastor, Fr. Gerald Schmidt, dies

Wabeno, Lakewood pastor remembered as being a friend to everyone

By Tony Staley
Compass Editor

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 Lakewood.

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.

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