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I just received your message and coincidentally just got home from my dentist appointment with Dr. Mark Barsamian. It was the first time I was back in Garden City since the funeral and Mark and I once again reminisced about Francis and how much we miss him. I only wish I would have been able to know him as long as Mark did, but feel blessed and thankful for every minute I did have with him.
When I started my position with the Garden City DDA, Francis was the first one at the door to welcome me...camera around the neck and hat on his head. It was a cold day in February, but that didn't deter him as he offered to give me the tour of Garden City. I'll never forget that day and how he made me feel so welcome. We were friends from that day on. During my time at the DDA, I would have my daughter in Garden City from time to time and we always stopped to see Francis. We never left without one of his home baked breads from that bread machine he loved so much!
After I left the position in Garden City, Francis and I stayed in touch...getting together for dinner in Garden City (I lived in Tecumseh) or we'd meet somewhere in between. I was amazed at how he was always 'on the go'! Sometimes I would call to take him to lunch and he wanted to pay with his 'fun money'. Sometimes I let him because it seemed to really tickle him.
The last time I saw him was this past summer when I stopped after a dental appointment with Mark. We went to New Peking...one of our favorites, then he needed some groceries so we made a couple of stops before I took him back home. He told me at that time that he was slowing down and I thought to myself, how would Garden City and all of us that know him carry on without such a fine example of a person in our lives.
As far as I am concerned, Francis should be canonized Saint Francis of Garden City! : ) I've never met anyone so incredibly faithful, kind and willing to share himself like he did. I think of him often, especially in church on Sundays and especially when we sing, "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace". When they sang that song at the funeral service, I realized that Francis lived that song. It was everything he believed in and was a testament to his life. Francis touched so many lives and personally he left a huge impact on my daughter and me.
Even though his passing was sad and I miss him, it was the first time in my life when I felt that in his death there was a reason to celebrate. I envisioned God smiling at him at those pearly gates and then said to him, 'Well done Francis!" and then he walked through those gates and was reunited with his wife he spoke so fondly about so many times to us. I couldn't help but be happy for him!
I pray that all of your families are doing well.
Thank you so much for forwarding this information to me. Doc was
such a special person to me. I was the first lady Kiwanis President and Doc was
so pleased about it. He was my right arm (he always hung on to me) literally
throughout the entire process. I was the middle school principal in Garden City
and last year moved to northern Michigan. Doc and I kept in close contact
throughout this last year. He was a very special man to me and stood right next
to me last November when I lost my father. I know you've heard many stories
about how great your dad was but he will always have a special place in my
heart. Thank you for sharing your dad with all of us in Garden City. You're in
our thoughts and prayers.
I didn’t get a chance to talk with you at the funeral but
please accept my sympathy.
The funeral service was beautiful!
I had just e-mailed Uncle Francis in June. He wrote back and
told me about his upcoming birthday celebration.
He used to call me on my Dad’s birthday every year after he died.
He was a kind and gentle man ( like my father), I know you all will miss him.
cousin, Geri Schmitt Baker (Gilbert’s youngest daughter)
Thank you Dick. You father was our family dentist for
35 years. I work at the Garden City Library and he often
came in for books as well as being a member of the Friends of
the Library. During the last 10 years he would always come
and sit and visit with me on his trips to the library. He was
a kind, intelligent, wonderful man who always brightened my day.
Thank you for your message. I am so sorry to hear about Francis.
He served on First Book with Dr. Susan Collins and many others including myself.
He was a very kind man and had a very pleasant nature.
Your father helped care for our children for generations – giving once or twice each year from even before our earliest records in 1940. Our children appreciated his generosity very much.
I hope that if you are ever in Michigan that you might come to our Albion campus to see the good work your father helped us provide.
In the meantime, please accept our condolences on your loss.
Leslie A. McCarley , Senior Director of Development, Starr Commonwealth
I received the news from my boss Lana Brothers about "Doc
Schmitt" or as I fondly called him "Dad". I worked at the Garden
City Bank (then Standard Federal) where I first met your father. We always loved
his visits. I could listen to him for hours about his travels, stories and most
of all his family. I think we had a connection because I had twins and he had
twins. I nicknamed him Dad because he reminded me of my own father.
When Lana and I were transferred to the Farmington Branch, he use to come over for a visit and still called up once in a while to check up on us. My husband was transferred to Georgia 4 years ago and it was a hard time for me to not being able to see my friends and "family" at the bank.
I was very sorry to hear and surprise that he has passed on. The world is a better place because of him. Who ever had the opportunity to cross his path was truly blessed. He was so proud of his family.
My dad had passed away 2 years ago and I know how your hearts can get heavy at times. Remember the good times. Whenever I think of Doc Schmitt, it always brings a smile to my face.
Thank you for sharing him with us.
So sorry to hear Uncle Francis is failing but it's good to know he is experiencing peaceful rest. He's been such a wonderful uncle and genealogy collaborator. I owe him a debt of gratitude for the knowledge and experiences he has shared with me over the past 13 years. I didn't know your dad very well before that. I always thought he was sort of stuffy and old. Needless to say, I was wrong on both accounts. He has such a deep regard for family, a great sense of humor, and last but not least as common as I am...just more educated :-). My only regret is that I didn't get to know him sooner. He most certainly has enriched my life.
His faith, lust for life, and determination to make the best of his life experiences impressed me the most. Losing a wife and two children would knock the wind out of most people. But not your dad, he just kept on going just like the energizer bunny. A few years ago I was talking to him and was surprised that he was painting the outside of the house. He must have been nearly 88 or so at that time. Most people that age are sitting in a chair watching TV, reading, or sleeping. Not him!!! In November or 1999 he fell overboard while visiting Israel...no big deal though. He was just amazed that when he was pulled out he still had his glasses. He did mention the men that pulled him out were a little overly zealous and pulled his shoulder out of place. Again, it didn't slow him down much.
He has had a full life because that's how he lived it.. It sounds like you and your siblings are supporting each other. Aren't big families wonderful!!?? Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you, your family, and Uncle Francis.
With Francis' passing it is the time of an era passing. He saw
the many things occur from being born before World War I to our present time. I
first met Francis in 1948 when I started to date his youngest sister Norberta,
19 years younger than him. I married her in 1950 and at that time had no
idea what a tremendous family I married into. A family with lots of faith, love
of family, firm values and all hard working.
Before our marriage, Bert spent time in Garden City with the
"smaller" Schmitt family. After our marriage and our growing family we
would see Francis and Eileen at weddings, anniversary's, funerals and the like.
In our later years, Francis would visit us and spend time by driving to
Kalamazoo himself then by taking the train. He got my wife interested in
genealogy and looked forward to visiting Mendon, the place of his birth, the
remaining relatives there as well as those in Kalamazoo. We often ate out and he
would always say it was "his" turn to cook.
Our last get together was a "mini" reunion five
weeks ago in Kalamazoo, with his sisters Mary, Lucille and Bert as well as his
brothers-in-law, Jim Dillon and myself, as well as his niece Aileen Sunnock and
daughter Martha Christensen.
It is sad to see someone like Francis leave us as our family
often referred to Uncle Francis as a "Living Legend", and he truly
May his soul rest in peace.
Dick I got the e-mail below from a young woman who lives in
Alaska. She and another friend were visiting us on Molokai at the same time your
Dad was there. Your Dad came for a week and stayed for three. While he was
there, he went on a hike up uncleared mountain trails to a waterfall and pool.
He was 80 that year and a rep. from AAA in California took pictures and
documented the trip by your Dad and a 8 year old boy. She titled it "8 to
Beside snorkeling for the first time at 80, I was thinking of some of the good times we had with your Dad and remembered "The girls" We had a rent a wreck four wheel drive pick-up to go up another mountain to view the many waterfalls in the valley beyond and also the Sandalwood Pit that was dug years ago by the natives as slave labor, When the pit was full of Sandalwood, it would fill the hull of a ship. The natives were forced to haul the logs down the mountain to the pier where the ship was docked. Many ruined their health or died. So the natives pulled up and destroyed every seedling of the Sandalwood trees so their children wouldn't be abused they way they were. Your Dad insisted on sitting in the back of the rickety pick up with his "Girls" on either side of him. He reminded me of George Burns. We all have fond memories of that three weeks and your Dad. I just thought I'd share some of our memories with you as Karen Milne did. Betty Hall
----- Original Message -----
To: Betty J. Hall
Sent: Friday, August 25, 2006 2:05 AM
Subject: RE: Francis Schmitt Status
Thanks for keeping us in the loop on Francis. I have such fond memories of snorkeling with him in Hawaii and sitting around the big table sharing stories, playing cards. Our days on Molokai with all of you were among the best of a lifetime. Thanks be to God that Francis led such a full, productive, and active life. It was hard to imagine then, that an 80 year old man who had had heart surgery wanted to learn how to snorkel with the "girls."
With love always,
I only met "Doc" one time - several years ago on the island of Molokai, Hawaii. He was vacationing there for a few weeks with my Aunt Betty & Uncle Archie Hall. My husband, Howard (who was Archie's nephew) and I also were there with them during part of that time. Howard (who passed away in May, 2003) was then suffering from early stages of ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). He had fallen the day before we flew to Hawaii and, as a result, had to have several stitches in his forehead and brow area. While we were in Hawaii, the stitches needed to be removed and "Doc" very carefully and kindly took care of that for us. He was such a gentle, kind person - I feel priviledged to have had the opportunity to meet him and spend some memorable time with him.
This is the youngest sister of Francis checking in.
My oh my, I am going to miss my oldest brother, can't say "big brother" as I was fortunate enough to have had 4 of them. Now I am brotherless and I am so thankful to have so many happy memories of each of my brothers.
Francis and I were 19 years apart by birth, but in the last 13 years I have had the chance to finally get to know him better. The years he was service, raising a family, working long days and I was also doing the last two, we sure didn't have the chance to do much hobnobbing. We made up for that since my retirement in 1993. Our guest room and bed will always be called Francis' as he would call and ask if his bed was empty and could he come occupy them a while.
He was always a gracious guest and I am so happy for all the times we shared visiting relatives, attending funerals, gathering genealogy information and meeting his many friends in this area.
Life will go on, but I and so many people are so blessed that he came our way. As I called people to tell of his graduation to his new eternal life, I became more and more aware of what big shoes he left for me to follow in.
He will always have a special place in my heart and memory.
Little Sister Bert