Longtime Seminole County educator Robert J. Schmidt wanted his legacy to reflect his life’s work of helping students. Through shrewd investments and frugality, the Heathrow resident and self-described “poor kid from Ohio” was able to build a legacy estimated at more than $2 million. Before he passed away on Oct. 20, Schmidt, 77, committed his estate to Seminole State College of Florida for endowed scholarships.
“Bob believed in people, in their goodness and in their abilities,” says Dr. E. Ann McGee, president of Seminole State. “This gift, the largest individual donation in the college’s 46-year history, will enable countless students to realize their dreams.”
A retired designer and Seminole County Public Schools teacher, Schmidt was born in Springfield, Ohio, on July 20, 1934. He worked in Ohio from 1952 until 1960 with James Leffel & Co., Speco Corp. and Buffalo Springfield Co. as a draftsman and designer, and from 1960 to 1962 at Piper Aircraft in Vero Beach.
After leaving the private sector, Schmidt taught drafting design technology for 26 years at Seminole High School in Sanford. In 1974 he was named Florida’s “outstanding technical educator of the year,” and his program was chosen to represent the state in a national contest for 13 Southeastern states.
Schmidt taught drafting and design for several years at Seminole State College, and in 2005 donated $100,000 to establish an endowed scholarship at the college. He directed that the funds go to students attending Seminole State’s Adult High School and GED programs, Seminole High School, Lyman High School and Crooms Academy of Information Technology. Each year since, he has added money to the scholarship.
That scholarship also bears the name of the late E.S. Douglas, former director of vocational and adult programs in Seminole County and former principal of Lyman High School. Douglas was a mentor to Schmidt, and Schmidt wanted to pay tribute to a great educator and friend. For that reason, all the new endowed scholarship funds established with the resources from his estate will bear both his and Douglas’ names.
Those scholarships will cover the wide range of programs available at Seminole State, including automotive technology, public safety and the first endowed scholarships for the college’s baccaulaureate students.
“What an incredible testimony to his commitment to Seminole State and the community, leaving a gift that will endure beyond his time with us,” says John Gyllin, executive director of the Foundation for Seminole State. “For generations, our students will have Bob to thank for changing their lives.”
On Oct. 24, the college’s District Board of Trustees passed a resolution honoring Schmidt for his generosity to the college.
A memorial service will be held Nov. 1 at 3 p.m. in the CFADA (AT) building on Seminole State College’s Sanford/Lake Mary Campus. For more information, call the Foundation for Seminole State College at 407.708.2429.
Schmidt will be interred at St. Bernard’s Cemetery in Springfield, Ohio.
The Weldon Society is a tribute to the alumni, employees, parents and friends of the college who have made or indicated their intention to make an end-of-life gift to the Foundation for Seminole State from their estate. The society is named for Seminole State's first president, Dr. Earl S. Weldon, who retired from the college in 1995. For more information, please visit the Foundation website.