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Joseph Schmidt

Published: August 10, 2017

The Newtown Bee

Joseph W. “Joe” Schmidt, 90, of Eastham, Mass., died August 6, after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s. He was born on May 11, 1927, in New Haven, to Catherine and Adam Schmidt and was the eldest of three. He was a former Newtown resident had served as principal for Sandy Hook Elementary School and Middle Gate School.

His loving wife of 38 years, Meg Schmidt; his children and their spouses, Michael and Carol Schmidt of Durham; Joanne Schmidt of Woburn, Mass.; Nancy and Tom Higgins of Bethesda, Md.; Alison and Matt Schaal of Bend, Ore.; their mother, Ann Mills of Milford; Meg’s children and their spouses, Edward Sullivan of Newtown; Robert and Nancy Sullivan of Tilghman Island, Md.; and Patricia and Rick Rosen of Weston; his sister, Claire Sacramone and her husband, Tom, of Chatham, Mass.; his grandchildren and great-grandchildren; as well as many beloved nieces, nephews, cousins, and in-laws survive Mr Schmidt.

His brother and best friend John “Jack” Schmidt predeceased him.

After graduating from Hillhouse High School, Mr Schmidt joined the US Navy and served aboard an LST in the South Pacific during World War II. After the war, he attended New Haven State Teachers College (now Southern Connecticut State University); at school  Mr Schmidt excelled in football and basketball and graduated with a teaching degree.

After college, he married Ann Collins and the two moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where Mr Schmidt taught at the Univerisity of Hawaii’s elementary school for the children of faculty members. His son Michael was born in Hawaii, and after moving back to Connecticut, daughters Joanne, Nancy, and Alison were born.

Mr Schmidt continued his teaching career at Eastern Connecticut State College in Willimantic, and later moved the family to Framingham, Mass., where he held his first elementary school principal position at Hastings School. The Schmidt family lived in Framingham from 1960 to 1967 where they made many friends and where Mr Schmidt became a lifelong Red Sox fan thanks to Yaz and the Impossible Dream Team.

In 1968, Mr Schmidt and the family moved to Newtown, where he had accepted a position as the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School. Over the years, he would occasionally open the gym on the weekend for his kids, their friends, or visiting cousins to shoot some hoops or climb the ropes. Mr Schmidt served as principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School from 1968 to 1975, then principal of Middle Gate School from 1976 until his retirement in 1984.

Mr Schmidt was an avid golfer (rain or shine) and member of Newtown Country Club; he was also active in the Lions Club, the St Rose Sports Guild, and the Newtown Ski Club.

In 1979, he married Meg Sullivan of Newtown and they moved to Eastham, Mass., in 1984, where they enjoyed an active retirement.  They played golf regularly at their club, Chequessett in Wellfleet; over the years Mr Schmidt played on the Men’s Senior Softball Ben & Jerry’s Team, enjoyed power boating, kayaking, fishing, and clamming; he changed cars every couple of years, enjoyed looking at real estate, and loved his fried clams. Mrs Schmidt paints with the Eastham Painters Guild, and Mr Schmidt often helped out at her art shows.

Over the years, they welcomed many visitors from the Schmidt/Sullivan/Higgins/Rosen/Schaal extended family, leaving all with memories to cherish of their happy times on the Cape. Mr and Mrs Schmidt also traveled extensively; some of their favorite trips were to Hilton Head Island, Savannah, Sanibel, Fla., Palm Springs Calif., England, and Ireland.

Mr Schmidt was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2005, taking Mrs Schmidt and the family through the difficult “longest goodbye.” Mrs Schmidt was his tireless and loving caregiver for several years until a nursing facility became necessary.

The only small blessing delivered by Mr Schmidt’s disease was that by 2012 he no longer had comprehension or awareness of current events, so for him, the last memories of Sandy Hook were of a bustling happy elementary school full of children that he loved. The Schmidt and Sullivan families feel comforted that Mr Schmidt is now at peace.

His loved ones say “Farewell Joe — Sailor Joe, Principal Joe, Uncle Joe, Grandpa Joe, Big Papi, and Dad — we will love and miss you always.”

The family will celebrate Mr Schmidt’s life later this fall.

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