Marion J. Schmidt, 87, Hays, died Friday, August 3, 2018 at his home.
He was born November 7, 1930 in Hays, the son of Paul J. and Catherine (Walters) Schmidt. Marion was raised on the family farm on Hopewell Road north of Hays, the 12th of 13 children. Life early on the farm included hauling hay with horse drawn wagon, hand milking in the dairy, and moving into town for weekdays in the winter to attend Catholic School. In 1949 he graduated from St. Joseph Military Academy. He earned his B.S. Degree in Education from Fort Hays State University and M.S. Degree in Education from the University of Northern Colorado. Marion served in the U.S. Army from 1951-1953 and was stationed at Lakenheath Air Force Base, in England. On December 3, 1955, he was united in marriage to Donna Mae Garrett at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Claflin, celebrating nearly 63 years of marriage.
Marion played on two undefeated football teams. As a player, he was All-State Quarterback in 1948-1949 while playing on the State Championship team at St. Joseph’s Military Academy, All-Conference at Fort Hays State University playing fullback in 1950-1951 and 1953-1954, and set the school record for the longest punt from scrimmage of 80 yards, held for 47 years at Fort Hays State University. From 1961 to 1978, he was athletic director, coach and teacher at St. Joseph Military Academy/Thomas More Prep High School. He previously coached teams at Jetmore, Leoti, Troy, and St. Mary of the Plains High School in Dodge City. He was the head football coach for three undefeated football teams, the 1960-1961 team in Troy, 1966-1967 St. Joseph Military Academy team, and the 1977-1978 Thomas More Prep High School team.
In 1990 with his wife Donna, Marion started Blue Sky Miniature Horse Ranch in Hays. He explained, “… when I saw my granddaughter raise one of these in a youth project … I decided that this is what I’m going to do in my retirement.” Schmidt raised only pure-bred miniature horses that are double-registered by the American Miniature Horse Association in Texas and the American Miniature Horse Registry in Illinois. Blue Sky is a well-known agri-tourism site that offered tours, horse cart rides and has been has been highlighted at area festivals for many years. The story of this miniature horse ranch was highlighted in the PBS (Public Broadcasting System) Television series “Sunflower Journeys” in their October 2017 season premiere show #3001 called “Fun Little Things” (online at https//ktwu.org/sunflower-journeys ).
Marion was a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, Lions Club, Deputy Officer in charge of the Northwest Kansas region for the Kansas Corporation Commission from 1978-1996, the VFW, American Legion, Kansas Teachers Association, American Miniature Horse Association, and American Miniature Horse Registry.
Survivors include his wife Donna of the home in Hays, two sons; Mayo Schmidt of Las Vegas, NV and Garret Schmidt and wife Laura of Prairie Village, two daughters; Pamela J. Schmidt of Topeka and Sandra Barnes and husband Mark of Ottawa, one brother; Donald Schmidt and wife Rose of Sun City, AZ, one sister, Helen Edmonds of Grosse Pointe, MI, eight grandchildren; Grier Schmidt, Nolan Schmidt, Lauren Barnes, Harrison Schmidt, Carson Barnes and wife Sarah, Darian Schmidt, Elaine Schmidt, and Kaitlyn Barnes, and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, six brothers; Alphons, Edwin, Alexius, Vincent, Cyril, and Jerome, and four sisters; Loretta Joy, Lidwina Schreiner, Cecilia Quint, and Mary Louise Rupp.
Mass of Christian Burial will be at 9:00 am on Friday, August 10, 2018 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, 1805 Vine Street, Hays. Burial with military honors by the Hays VFW honor guard will follow at the St. Catherine Cemetery. Visitation will be from 5:00 pm until 7:00 on Thursday at Hays Memorial Chapel Funeral Home, 1906 Pine Street, Hays and from 8:30 am until 9:00 on Friday at the church. A Daughters of Isabella rosary will be at 5:30 pm and a combined vigil service and rosary will be at 6:30 pm, all on Thursday at the funeral home. Memorials are suggested to the family, in care of the funeral home. Condolences may be left for the family at www.haysmemorial.com