Gene Schmidt, 77, passed away peacefully on March 27th, 2021 after complications from congestive heart failure. He was surrounded by love, family, and music in his final hours. A memorial service was held Wednesday, May 5th. To view the service, visit Gene’s Celebration of Life.
Love, family, and friendship were the heart of Gene’s world. He was a dedicated husband to his wife, Peggy for 55 years. Their marriage was a testament of true love and teamwork. They shared a lifetime of memories and weathered many storms. Gene enjoyed playing pinball, and attending rock concerts, especially Bon Jovi, with his younger daughter, Jeni (Cosgrove.) He was a supportive and kind-hearted father-in-law to Jim. He was an active, childlike grandfather (Papa) to Lyda and Willa, always beaming in their presence. Gene adored the family dogs who are missing his walks and unconditional love.
Gene was born on Nov. 2nd, 1943, to Nick and Hilda Schmidt and his brother, Marvin in Hoisington, KS. (His parents and brother proceeded him in death.) Gene graduated from Hoisington High school in 1961. He received an English degree from Pittsburg State University where he was student body president, and a charter member of the Zeta Iota Chapter of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. Gene was one of the chapter’s first Consuls and was involved with the Alumni Association for many years. Gene was Zeta Iota’s 3rd Recipient of the Sigma Chi National “Significant Sig Award” in 1999 for his incredible dedication to advocating for victims’ rights after the tragic murder of his older daughter, Stephanie in 1993. With the help of friends and lawmakers, the Schmidt family started the Speak Out for Stephanie Foundation to create public awareness for victims’ rights, through which they successfully changed laws and saved lives. Their advocacy work was recognized by multiple awards, including the National Crime Victims’ Service Award. Gene also served as the Victims’ Rights Coordinator for the State of Kansas.
Gene’s charismatic personality and creative talents kept him connected to a variety of communities. Some knew him when he was an English teacher, photographer, real estate agent, and advertising consultant. Throughout every chapter of his life, he made many lifelong friendships. Gene loved popping popcorn to share with friends. He made a lasting impression with his quirky sense of humor and unforgettable.
The family has requested that remembrances be made in the form of contributions to the community outreach programs provided through Colonial Church. (Colonial Church in Prairie Village 7039 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS 66208.) Or, please consider donating to a Victims’ Rights Advocacy organization of your choice. In Gene’s honor, we can continue to make a difference in the lives of others.