Longtime Hays resident and philanthropist Patricia “Pat” Schmidt died Friday at her home.
Pat and Bob Schmidt have had a dramatic and lasting effect at Fort Hays State University, Hays Medical Center and other community projects.
Several facilities — Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center, Dreiling Schmidt Cancer Institute and Schmidt-Bickle Training Facility — bear testimony to their generosity.
Pat Schmidt’s friends remember her with love and respect.
“She provided more for this community than will ever be known. She was very quiet about her contributions and very humble,” her friend Marcy Allenbaugh said.
“Pat has been the matriarch of one of the most generous families in Hays,” former FHSU President Edward Hammond said. “She wasn’t always the out front leader, but her values and strong commitment and religious belief molded a lot of the philanthropic activity that Bob and Pat undertook.”
Hammond has known the Schmidts since he came to Hays.
“Bob was on the search committee when I was hired in 1987,” Hammond said.
The Schmidts have “been instrumental in all of our initiatives through the Foundation in support of students,” FHSU Foundation president/CEO Tim Chapman said.
“She was a dear friend,” Lorena Kellogg said. “The arts were very important to her. She and Bob were very involved in the community, and they were very generous.”
Pat served as Hays Arts Council president twice and was appointed to the board of directors of the Association of Arts Councils of Kansas.
The Schmidts’ first major gift to FHSU was to help with the Performing Arts Center.
“Pat took a strong interest in making sure that everything was done first class,” Hammond said. “She really wanted to make sure that Hays had a major performing arts facility that was second to none. She was a big supporter of the arts.”
Bob and Pat Schmidt also supported FHSU athletics “even the last few years when she was having health problems. She really enjoyed coming and watching the Lady Tigers especially,” Hammond said.
Pat Schmidt believed in the Midwestern work ethic and Kansas values, Chapman said.
“She knew what she believed in, and she knew what she wanted to support. All the decisions were made by Bob and Pat together. When they made a gift it was the two of them agreeing that this was something that was important to the community,” Hammond said.
Don Bickle is a longtime friend of the Schmidts.
“I’ve known Bob for years, and years and years. Bob and I have done a lot of projects together, financial projects.”
Though his ties to Bob are closer, “I love her, and I tell you she’s a sweetheart all the way,” Bickle said of Pat. “Bob is going to be devastated for awhile. I understand because I had the same kind of a situation here about 10 years ago when I lost my (first) wife. It’s going to be rough on him, awful rough.”
Chapman said a couple of years ago he did a bronze sculpture for the Schmidts, and worked closely with Pat on the design.
The piece was titled “Cloud Dancer” because “she loved to watch the clouds in the evening and at sunset. I don’t think there’ll be another sunset that will go by that I don’t watch and think of Pat Schmidt and our conversations about her beliefs and her love for Fort Hays, the students, and for Kansas.”
“She was a beautiful woman inside and out. I looked up to her and respected her,” Allenbaugh said.