Bernard "Bernie" Leonard Schmidt Jr., an artist and professor at Xavier University, formed memories in the same way his robust hands shaped the clay he used to mold statues and bronze castings. In both endeavors, he was thoughtful, firm and intentional.
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"He had an interesting comment about being a father," said his son, Bernard Schmidt III. "He said, 'One the most important things a parent can do is to create memories for their children.'"
He used compassionate strength to guide his sons, the same way he forged masterpieces, leaving not only memories, but a legacy to history.
Mr. Schmidt of Erlanger, formerly of Fort Mitchell, died Oct. 25 at Christ Hospital in Mt. Auburn. He was 76.
As a boy growing up in Covington, Bernie had a penchant for drawing and artistic endeavors. His parents, Bernard and Rose Mary Decker Schmidt Sr., provided him with plenty of paper on which to draw.
By the time he was in second grade, he was taking private lessons from Aileen F. McCarthy in Covington. She had been a student of noted painter Frank Duveneck at the Cincinnati Art Academy.
He served a stint in the Army National Guard as a master sergeant and then went on to pursue his passion for art.
He earned his bachelor's degree at Villa Madonna College in Covington. He received a master of arts degree from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and a master of fine arts degree from Ohio State University.
He met his wife, Patricia Brady, while playing volleyball near Lunken Airport. The couple married in 1969. They moved to Fort Mitchell where they raised their family.
Mr. Schmidt's teaching career began in 1970 at his first Alma mater, now Thomas More College in Edgewood.
In 1978, he took a position at Edgecliff College in Walnut Hills. When the college merged with Xavier University in 1980, he remained on staff. He was chair of the department for art from 1990-1997. He was also the director of the art gallery in the Cohen Center.
When he retired in 1999, he traveled extensively. He also rediscovered dancing and particularly enjoyed East Coast swing and boogie.
Throughout his career, Mr. Schmidt remained a prolific artist. He was commissioned to create works for a variety of clients, including Procter & Gamble, religious orders, construction companies, families and private individuals.
He created large masterworks, smaller portraits in clay and pieces known as ceremonial art medallions.
The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., has one of his medallions in its permanent collection.
His work is displayed throughout the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region, including a fountain in East Walnut Hills, large bronze sculptures on the campuses of Thomas More College, Xavier University, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College and other universities across the country.
His son said his father was deep and connected to his spiritual side. He was well-read and well-versed. He believed being an artist was a holy and spiritual way to live.
His wife, Patricia Brady Schmidt, died previously.
Survivors include his sons, Bernard, Daniel and Nicholas Schmidt; brothers, James F., Daniel G. and Stephen Schmidt; sisters, Lynne Noll and Rosalie McDavid, and seven grandchildren.
Services have taken place. Burial is in St. Mary Cemetery, Fort Mitchell. Middendorf -Bullock Funeral Home, Covington, handled arrangements.
Memorials: Holy Family School, 338 E. 16th Street, Covington, KY 41014.
Online condolences to www.middendorfbullock.com.
Published in the Kentucky Enquirer on Nov. 5, 2013
Middendorf-Bullock Funeral Home
917 Main St Covington, KY 41011