BURLINGTON - John Robert Schmidt passed away March 13, 2014 in his home in Burlington, North Carolina surrounded by his family. He was born July 6, 1928 in Topeka, Kansas, to Esther Martha and John Joseph Schmidt. His father passed when he was seven years old, survived by his mother. After his father's passing he spent most of his childhood with his aunt Molly and uncle Lynn Myers.
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He graduated from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas in 1953 with a Bachelors of Arts in Mathematics, then going on to gain a Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1964 from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
He began his military career in 1946 with a one-year tour of duty in the United States Marine Corps. He continued his active duty military service with the United States Air Force, quickly rising to the rank of Major, from August 1953 to November 1973, gaining his wings as a fighter pilot in August 1956, only three years after enlisting. He served a three-year tour in Japan and a one-year tour in Vietnam. His assignments included combat missions in Vietnam, missile program office assignments at the Naval Air Command, and flight test officer for avionics equipment at the Air Force Flight Test Center Edwards Air Force Base. During his Air Force career he received many national defense service medals, including Vietnam service and campaign medals. The most noteworthy recognitions were the Air Force Commendation Award and the Navy Commendation Award. In 1973 he retired with honors from active duty at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
In 1974 he began his second career of federal civilian service at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division Point Mugu, California. He served as an electronics engineer in the flight test branch of the weapons directorate. His combined knowledge and expertise of aircraft and military flying experience earned him the tremendous reputation as a superior professional and expert in in-flight testing of the Sparrow series of missiles. His assignments included Flight Test Engineer for the British Skyflash program and all phases of Sparrow AIM/RIM-7M, 7P, and 7R Developmental, Operational and Production flight test programs. He retired from federal civil service in 1994.
John was preceded in death by his parents, Ester Martha Myers Schmidt Whitaker and John Schmidt, his first wife Carolyn Lavonne Piper Schmidt, and his aunt Molly Schmidt Myers.
John is survived by: his wife, Shirley Ann Carter Schmidt of Burlington, NC; his children: Tawnya Darcel Hunt (Richard) of Ventura, CA; Tamar Suzanne Righetti (David) of San Luis Obispo, CA; Tanya Marie Paschke of Edmund, OK; and Dane Shelby Schmidt of Burlington, NC; grandchildren: Michael John Regano, Samantha Nicole and Alexandra Michele Hunt, Jonathan David, Dalen Joseph, and Gavin Ernest Righetti all of CA; brother Willard Merle Schmidt (Betty) of Prescott, AZ and his children, Marta Jayne McBride and Karen Lee Lipshin of CA, along with many nieces and nephews, and great nieces and nephews Brian Matthew, Jacob Samuel, and Molly Kate McBride, and Ayla Lipshin all of CA.
A special thanks to the Hospice of Alamance County staff Ruby, Beverly, Vicky, Bonnie, and Crystal for their unwavering support these past 3 years.
Memorial services will be held Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 2:00 p.m., in the chapel of Rich and Thompson, 306 Glenwood Ave., Burlington, NC.
Donations may be made in John's name to Hospice and Palliative Care Center of Alamance Caswell. Condolences may be offered at www.richandthompson.com
Rich and Thompson Funeral and Cremation Service
306 Glenwood Ave. Burlington, NC 27215
Published in TheTimesNews.com from Mar. 22 to Mar. 23, 2014