Raymond E. Schmidt
Kaukauna - Raymond Edward Schmidt passed away peacefully on Monday, March 8, 2021, at the age of 93. He was a loving son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather and friend; one of the kindest, and most generous people anyone could ever know.
Ray was born on June 28, 1927, in Kaukauna, WI, to Albert and Margaret Schmidt. He was the second of eight children. Growing up, Ray had many friends. He was kind to everyone; a real good guy. He was an altar boy at St. Mary's Church, played the trumpet in high school, and loved fishing with his Dad. Ray also learned the value of hard work. He cleared fields, painted gas stations, helped build the family's cottage, and drove fuel oil truck for his father. In 1945, he graduated from Kaukauna High School, served in the U.S. Army in Panama during WWII, and started his career delivering home heating fuel.
On September 22, 1948, he married Carol "Tweet" Zornow. Together they raised two daughters, Jane and Julie, and two sons, Albert and Wallie. He was a devoted father, and a wonderful example for his children. Ray and Tweet enjoyed nearly 55 years of marriage. Side by side, they carried on an avid social life at their home, cottage, local establishments, and the golf course. They traveled extensively, and loved to spend time with family, and their large circles of friends. Ray is well-known for the tremendous care he showed for Tweet through her 53-year struggle with diabetes. He always said that they had a very, very good life together.
In 1951, Ray and his brother Art bought a fuel oil route in Kimberly, WI, and started Schmidt Brothers Oil Company with their father's financial backing and industry connections. They renamed the company Schmidt Oil Co. when their father joined the business in 1954. Later, their younger brother Bill came into the company, and eventually the name was changed to U.S. Oil Co., Inc., and then U.S. Venture, Inc. During his career, Ray ran the tire warehouse, served as Secretary-Treasurer, cultivated the company's philanthropy, and was always and forever the "people person" at the office. To the end, he cared deeply for everyone who worked at U.S. Venture. He visited the office often, calling everyone by name, and asking about their family. He was incredibly proud of, and grateful for all of their hard work. He always said they had the best people working at the company.
After Tweet's passing, Ray found love again, and married his high school sweetheart, LaVerne (Alears) Leddy on October 9, 2004. They made each other extremely happy, and with the addition of LaVerne's five daughters' families, Ray was thrilled to have an even larger family of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Ray always commented on how blessed he was to find such happiness and love twice in his life. He was an incredible example to all of a loving and devoted husband and father.
Ray's tremendous love for people was evident in his incredible generosity. Following the example of his parents, and guided by his strong Catholic faith, he gave tirelessly to those who were hurting; humbly giving because it was the right thing to do. He had many favorite charities both close to home and abroad, but he found most happiness in directly helping someone in need. He touched a lot of people. Ray often commented that since he was so blessed, it was his duty to help others, and he actively worked to share the joy of philanthropy with his children and grandchildren.
Ray enjoyed golf, gathering with friends, fish fries at Van Abel's, singing with the Barbershoppers, traveling in his motor home, and spending time at the cottage. He liked to build in his workshop, remodel his home, and draw plans for friends' construction projects. He had a sharp mind, a great memory, a brain for math, a need to problem-solve, a beautiful singing voice, and an incredible sense of humor. He was a man of deep faith, and the best at leading mealtime prayer. He really took care of his sisters, and his family members. More than anything, he wanted us all to "just get along" and be "Happy Campers." Ray was extremely life-giving in raising others up, and always positive about his own situation. He will be remembered for his overwhelming kindness, his steadfast love of all people, his inspiring generosity, and his many many sing-a-longs of "Clarence the Clocker." Ray leaves behind an amazing example of a well-lived and well-loved life. He will be greatly missed.
Ray is survived by four children: Jane Kaufman, Julie Bongers, Albert (Shirley) Schmidt, and Walter (Amy Hansen) Schmidt; five step children: Lynn (Jerry) Zimpelmann, Patty (Vern) Drechsler, Cheri (Perry) Brown, Lorrie (Jerry) Schneider, and Leah (Lee Auerbach) Leddy; 11 grandchildren: Paul Kaufman, John (Tara) Kaufman, Carol (Brad) Van Camp, Jacquelyn (Michael) Sharkey, Michael (Michelle) Bongers, Gregory (Laurie) Bongers, Maria (Kyle) Gauthier, Christopher (Jena) Schmidt, Charlie Schmidt Hansen, Samuel Schmidt Hansen and Leo Schmidt Hansen; 13 step grandchildren: Matthew (Gina) Zimpelmann, Adam (Lindsay) Zimpelmann, Jonathan (Andrea) Zimpelmann, Heidi (Brad) Krause, Greta (Jake) Wagner, Leddy (Kevin) Luebke, Lane (Ben) Pritzl, Lydia (Casey) Pivonka, Liam (Raquel) Brown, Ryan (Hannah) Brown, Natalie (Jon) Schubbe, Maria (Luke) Hartzheim, and Andrea (Mike) Kohne; and 57 great grandchildren. He is also survived by sisters: Helen Lenz, Mary Ann Austin, Eleanor (Marvin) Hietpas, and Florence (Mike) McKenna; brother-in-law: Edward Mentzer; sisters-in-law: Barbara Schmidt, and Marian Van Groll; as well as numerous nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
Ray was preceded in death by his wives: Carol Schmidt, and LaVerne Schmidt; three children deceased at birth: Mary, James and John; sons-in-law: Joe Kaufman, and Dan Bongers; his parents: Albert and Margaret (Wanke) Schmidt; father and mother-in-law: Walter and Dory (Jansen) Zornow; brothers: Arthur (Gladys) Schmidt, and William Schmidt; sister: Margaret Mentzer; brothers-in-laws: Ignatius Lenz, Frank Austin, Jack (Margaret) Zornow, and Bill (Maggie) Zornow; sisters-in-law: Phyllis Nelson, June (Mike) Verhagen, and Arlene (Ray) Bobber.
There will be a public visitation on Monday, March 15, 2021, from 3:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at St. Katharine Drexel Parish - St. Mary's Church, 119 W. 7th Street, Kaukauna. The family will celebrate Ray's life privately with a Mass on Tuesday morning. Those wishing to view the Mass online may do so at the Verkuilen-Van Deurzen Family Funeral Home Facebook Page at 11:00 a.m. Interment will be in St. Mary's Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, a memorial is being established in Ray's name. For online condolences, please visit www.verkuilenfh.com
The Schmidt Family would like to extend a special thank you to Ray's incredible team of caregivers: Amy, Sue, Jan, Laurie, Bonnie, Liam, Glen and Cathy for their outstanding care of him these last many months, and to the numerous friends and family members who shared meals with Ray nightly. The family also expresses its gratitude to the doctors, nurses and staff at St. Elizabeth Hospital for taking exceptional care of Ray during his final days.
Published by Appleton Post-Crescent from Mar. 10 to Mar. 14, 2021.