Life story

life story: William Mathew ‘Bill’ Schmidt Jr., 80, of Festus | Obituary

Husband, father, teacher, coach, referee, referee. For decades, Bill Schmidt wore all of these hats simultaneously.

“I don’t know how he found the time,” said Carol, his wife of 59 years. “He worked it all out one way or another, because he liked it. He did it for the love of the game.

Mr. Schmidt died on August 3 at the age of 80 of complications from heart disease. He has long been a teacher and coach at St. Pius X and Windsor High Schools.

Mr. Schmidt graduated from Roosevelt High, where he played baseball and football, and attended St. Louis University on a baseball scholarship.

He was introduced to his future wife by his father.

“I had an after-school job at a furniture store where her dad was a salesperson,” Carol said.

The two married in July 1962, while still in college, and had their first child on graduation day.

He did his graduate studies at the University of Washington.

“His brother was at the University of Washington and talked to the coaches about Bill,” Carol said. “He went for an interview and they offered him a post as graduate assistant, which significantly reduced the tuition fee.”

Mr. Schmidt coached baseball and football there, and the Schmidts had two more children by the time he graduated in 1967.

“He was under a lot of pressure,” Carol said. “We talked about it a few years later. He insisted it wasn’t difficult, because he absolutely loved what he was doing.

Mr. Schmidt taught and coached for three years at the former De Andreis High School, a small private school for boys. Then, in 1970, he accepted a teaching and coaching position at St. Pius X Catholic High School in Crystal City.

“He was the head football coach; he helped the late Ralph Boyer in basketball and baseball, and was a track head coach, ”said Carol. “He loved her! It was what he wanted to do since he was a child, to play sports and work with young people.

Larry Kist of St. Louis played linebacker on those early teams.

“To properly frame his impact, it’s important to realize what he got into in 1970,” Kist said. “The previous two seasons they were 1-9. His first year, Pius went 6-3-1, then enjoyed winning seasons the following four out of five years.

Much of that success was Mr. Schmidt’s style, in the classroom and on the pitch.

“He knew the X’s and Bones of football, and he was a great teacher of it,” Kist said. “But he was also a coach we respected. There was mutual understanding there.

“He expected two things: give your best every day and have fun. He didn’t expect us to win every game, and that was good; there were better teams. But if we did those two things, he would be okay, and so would we. “

Marty Zielonko, 66, from Festus came to St. Pius X in 1977 and taught and coached alongside Mr. Schmidt.

“He’s always been so good with students and athletes,” Zielonko said. “The atmosphere at Pius wasn’t about winning matches; it was about training good people. He was a calm, calm guy, very quick-witted, with a dry sense of humor. And he was always in a good mood, very balanced all the time. He and Carol would set up staff meetings after games, and you wouldn’t know if they won or lost.

Carol eventually began working at St. Pius as a secretary, and the couple were instrumental in setting up the annual charity auction for the school.

Mr. Schmidt, meanwhile, has served as a baseball umpire and basketball umpire in area schools.

“He was well regarded across the county in all of his roles,” Zielonko said. “He knew his job, knew the rules upstream and downstream. And he treated everyone well. He was a gentle man and a gentleman.

Mr. Schmidt left St. Pius in 1982 to become head coach of Windsor High School.

“It was a tough decision to leave,” Carol said. “St. Pius was such a community-oriented school, and we had a lot of friends there.

Mr. Schmidt retired in 2002.

“But he got a little restless,” Carol said. “He went back to Pius to be an assistant football coach under Rick Overberg. He still umpired basketball and umpired baseball too. “

When he retired for good, Mr. Schmidt enjoyed fishing, hunting and horse racing, which he approached in a typically methodical fashion.

“It was almost a passion,” Carol said. “He loved studying horses, whether they ran well in wet or dry conditions, how they did at the quarter mile.”

Mr. Schmidt’s health began to deteriorate about 15 years ago.

“He was a long-time diabetic,” Carol said. “He took care of himself and having an active lifestyle helped him, but his kidneys started to fail, and he went on dialysis in 2010 and had a kidney transplant in 2014.”

In recent months, he has become sicker.

“He went to the hospice and died at home,” Carol said.

She said her husband would like to be remembered as “a good Christian who was principled, cared about others, was kind.”

Zielonko said Mr. Schmidt was a great mentor and role model.

“As an old man, I try to tell young people: Bill Schmidt was one of the people who made Pius more than just a school.”

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