Dr. Duane Arthur Schmidt passed away in his home in Vinton, Iowa on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
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He is survived by his wife, Dianne Donels Schmidt of Vinton, his daughter, Cyndee "Cyd" Schmidt Ferris and her husband, David Ferris of San Mateo, California, as well as his daughter, Catherine "Cat" Lewis and her husband, Howard S. Lewis, of Apex, North Carolina, and their two children, Anna Babette Lewis and Howard Arthur "Howie" Lewis. Dr. Schmidt was preceded in death by his parents, Eunice and Arthur Schmidt, his sister, June Williams, his brother-in-law, Dr. Robert Williams, his nephew, Paul Arthur Williams, and former wife, Shirley Finefield Schmidt.
He is further survived by his wife's daughter, Brigitte Burgman and her children, Ben, Rachel, and Seth, and his wife Mimi and their daughter Celine, all of Florida; as well as two nephews and their families, Steven and Rebekah Williams of New Hampshire, and David and Ana Williams and their son Gregory of California. And, countless friends, patients, and colleagues.
Dr. Schmidt was born on August 30, 1929, in Brookings, South Dakota, moving to Iowa in the early 1930s when his father accepted a job in a Vinton drugstore. His father, Arthur Schmidt, went on to become Benton County's first delinquent tax collector and, later, its first Realtor.
Known to most everyone as, "Schmidty," he embodied his larger-than-life persona in every endeavor from the football gridiron, where he played center, to the theatre stage, where he stole the show with his great timing and sense of humor. He attended Coe College until he was pressed to exercise his patriotic duty and join the US Navy. He became a Hospital Corpsman, serving his final six months in St. Albans Naval Hospital, Long Island, New York.
Upon release from active duty, he returned to Coe College, completing studies that led to his acceptance into the University of Iowa College of Dentistry. Prior to his dental college studies, he married Shirley Finefield from Cedar Rapids and they had their first daughter, Cyd.
After graduating with Honors in General Dentistry from the University of Iowa, he returned to the US Navy where he served two years as a Lt. Senior Grade in the Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Virginia.
Upon his release from the Navy, he returned to the University of Iowa College of Dentistry for graduate study in Pediatric Dentistry, at the same time fulfilling a Teaching Assistantship. Following completion of this advanced study, he opened a practice of pediatric dentistry in Fort Dodge, Iowa.
During the next 14 years, he and Shirley welcomed their second daughter, Cat, into the family, and he built a successful pediatric dental practice. During these years, he served three years on the Ft. Dodge School Board, was president of the Prairie Gold Boy Scouts, served as president of both the Webster County and the University District dental groups, and, as one of his most cherished acknowledgements, he was awarded the first Golden Rule Award by the Ft. Dodge Kiwanis Club.
In the early 1970s, he sold his dental practice and his home in Ft. Dodge and moved to Des Moines where he launched a dental and medical business venture. And, in 1975, he moved the family to Cedar Rapids to be near his terminally ill mother-in-law.
He then opened an advertising agency in Cedar Rapids, which he ran until he opened what was to become Gentle Dental, considered to be one of the-if not the-largest privately owned dental offices in the world at the time.
With 34 chairs, 55 employees, and accepting 400 new patients monthly, the 13,000 square foot Gentle Dental office set a pace of being a national first in many arenas. Notably, it was the first dental office in the nation to pass an OSHA inspection with zero bloodborne pathogen violations.
Until his death, Dr. Schmidt was an Adjunct Professor at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry teaching on the subject of Risk Management.
He was a Fellow in the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a Distinguished Fellow at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry; and served five years on the Editorial Board of Dental Economics. Dr. Schmidt was a member of Mensa, the Shrine, the Christian Dental Association, and a lifetime member of both the Iowa Dental Association and the American Dental Association.
Always mindful of helping those less fortunate, Dr. Schmidt developed a day of charity, "Doctors With A Heart," for dentists and doctors in all fields to give away a day of free care to anyone in need, no questions asked. He had also traveled twice to a Guatemalan orphanage where he and two Gentle Dental staff members served the dental needs of hundreds of grateful youngsters.
His favorite passions included musical theatre, golf, wine, fine dining, and world travel. One of his favorite destinations was Europe--Germany and Switzerland in particular, where he traced his ancestry to the 1600s and he wrote a personal account detailing his familial lineage called, "Wurtzel," the German word for "roots." He reconnected with blood relations overseas that had been separated from the United States branch of the family tree for over 100 years.
He enjoyed visiting New York City, mainly for museums, restaurants and Broadway shows. Some of his favorite shows included "Evita," "Phantom of the Opera," and "Les Miserables." He named his boat "Easy Street," a tongue-in-cheek homage to the song of the same name from the musical, "Annie."
Often taking his family to Europe in June, his girls swore he always planned a return flight home on Father's Day so that he could have the longest Father's Day "in history." Many times, they would celebrate his day on the plane with gifts and treats. A cherished Burberry golf bag was a gift the year London played a major role in their travels abroad.
An avid golfer, he was a member of the Cedar Rapids Country Club, the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, and the Vinton Country Club. One of his favorite spots was on the links with good friends. He treasured those times with his golf buddies.
Over his career he spoke more than a hundred times to professional groups, published scores of articles in professional journals, and published over a dozen books. Writing was a talent and a passion for him, and he enjoyed melding writing with travel and business by exploring China, Galapagos, and even Iowa back roads for his book, "Iowa Pride." His final book, his memoir, will be published posthumously.
As one well-versed in the sciences, Dr. Schmidt spent thirty years researching Darwin's theory of evolution to conclude that the theory was just that, a "theory." He penned two books debunking the myth of evolution and cautioned against the practice of teaching theories as fact, something he considered to be extremely unscientific. Dr. Schmidt was a Creationist.
In 1994, Dr. Schmidt-then divorced-married a lifetime Vinton friend, Dianne Donels and the two returned to live in Vinton. They traveled the world with many trips to Europe and Mexico. A memorable excursion took them across the pond on the HMS Queen Elizabeth II to Europe and flying back to the States on the Concorde SST.
For many years Dr. Schmidt was the driving force and benefactor behind the annual Thanksgiving Day dinner for the elderly held in Cedar Rapids, first at Washington High School, and later at Aegon. He supplied over 1000 dinners each year both onsite and delivered for the local aged, disabled, and shut-in populations.
Dr. Schmidt was widely known as a positive thinker, and if anyone ever asked him how he was doing he would always reply, "Sooper!" He continually helped his family, friends and patients find new dimensions in a life nailed to the Christ he loved.
Services will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at Wesley United Methodist Church, 516 2nd Avenue, Vinton, Iowa, with Rev. Dr. Judith Bunyi officiating. Visitation will be from 9:30 a.m. to service time at the church on Wednesday. U.S. Navy Funeral Honors will end the service. Private family burial at Evergreen Cemetery, Vinton.
Van Steenhuyse-Russell Funeral Home is caring for Duane and his family. Condolences may be left at www.vsrfh.com.
Van Steenhuyse-Russell Funeral Home
1212 1st Ave
Vinton, IA 52349
Published in Cedar Valley Daily Times on June 3, 2013