Louis W. Schmidt Jr, 90, of Olathe, KS, passed away on January 6th, 2021 at the Overland Park Regional Medical Center due to an internal bleed. He was born on March 28th, 1930 to Louis and Gracia Beatrice (Snyder) Schmidt in Herrin, IL. He married Carolyn Sue Malone (Strickland) in Tulsa, OK on December 21st, 1957.
Lou graduated from Marion High School in Marion, IL, class of 1948. He served 18 months in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Germany. He was working for Johns-Manville Sales Corp and was a member of the St. Louis Toastmasters club when he became engaged and then married to Sue. He completed two years of evening classes for Business Administration at Washington University in St. Louis. A few moves and jobs later, on July 7th, 1975, Lou and Sue purchased Drexel Inc. from Roy Sullivan. Drexel Inc. was reincorporated and became Drexel Supply Co. Inc., which was located at 612 State Avenue in Kansas City, KS. Drexel sold blueprint equipment and supplies.
“Drexel has been in business at the same location for 32 years. We vow to supply the best products and quality service to our customers.”
And that is just what they did. Lou thrived in the role of President of Drexel Supply and was proud that he paid off his small business loan in less than one year. He did not want to carry any debt. He loved going downtown to work and treated his employees well. I relished sitting at his desk with my feet up pretending that I was the owner. I loved looking through his desk drawers to find unique engineering pens and markers etc....
In addition to owning Drexel Supply, he opened Kelly Blueprint as a walk-in printing and supply location near our home, with my mom, Sue, running that small business. Dad also was a part of starting the ASA Cooperative Network, which expanded into a cooperative group of over 30 Blueprint and Reprographic companies. This enabled the group of owners to have better buying power and remain competitive.
Dad was also an amazing salesman. Highlights of a resume recently uncovered reveal that he was a district manager for GAF Corporation supervising many salesmen and servicemen, increasing sales every time, and personally handling an H&R Block account that increased sales five-fold. He won “Salesman of the Year” among many other awards along the way. Dad was not a “slick” used car salesman-type; he was always authentic, honest, and fair.
He also tried his hand in local Overland Park, KS politics where he ran for City Council in 1979, saying this in a newspaper article,
“I’ve always thought that if a person is going to disagree with the way things are, he should get in there and fight for what he believes. It is in that spirit that I look forward to a vigorous, hard-fought, issue-oriented campaign. The people deserve a choice.”
I remember going door-to-door helping his campaign. Sadly, he lost. However, it did not crush him, he remained involved on the city planning commission.
Lou also loved heading north with the family to our cabin on beautiful Sugar Lake, MN each summer. My mom would stay for the summer months as dad would travel back and forth. He loved fishing, golfing and tinkering around in the garage, as well as getting together with beloved neighbors for pot-luck dinners.
Later in life, he enjoyed golfing and his many friends at Stratford Place in Overland Park, KS, a senior community of townhomes. He was the President of the Stratford Place for many years and was well-respected all his years there. As he declined from dementia over these past 5+ years, it was difficult to see him lose his sensibilities and memories, yet he never lost his dignity thanks to the great care Aberdeen Village gave him during this time.
My dad was a devoted husband and father as well as a natural entrepreneur. He was a phenomenal earthly father to me who rarely was angry or raised his voice when I messed up. He was always gracious and kind, preferring a lesson to be learned. I love to think back at how involved he was with me, his only child. Whether it was Indian Princess, sponsoring our softball team year after year, or just playing catch in the front yard, he never balked. At times, when I or one of his employees had an accident while driving a company vehicle, he would always ask first about the people involved, not being concerned about the car or truck; Dad always placed people and relationships over possessions.
His love for his family, sisters and their families, and his employees was authentic and true. He was a man you could trust, a man you could rely on, a man who would have given you the shirt off his back. He will forever be known as a successful yet humble Southern Illinois boy who grew up in the Depression and made something of himself by working hard and being honest. All who knew him loved him; I don’t think he had any enemies.
My dad touched many lives; and I am, and always will be, proud and thankful to the Lord for my earthly father. He will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved him.
Lou is survived by his loving daughter, Kelly (Scott) Robinson, Brother-in-Law Mickey (Kristi) Strickland and several amazing nieces and nephews. Louis W. Schmidt Jr was preceded in death by his devoted wife, Carolyn Sue Malone (Strickland), his parents Louis William Schmidt Sr. and Gracia Beatrice (Snyder) Schmidt, his 3 beloved sisters, Mary Evelyn Haggin, Alice Marie Wilson, and Dolores Ellen Sindecuse.
Visitation will be held Saturday, January 16th, 2021 at 9 a.m. at Ascend Church, 15865 S Ridgeview Rd. Olathe, KS 66062 with funeral service to follow at 10 a.m.
Interment will take place in the Resurrection Catholic Cemetery, Lenexa, KS. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to www.alz.org/kansascity in Lou’s honor.
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