Tony Schmidt said he grew up in a house where his parents stressed the importance of faith and giving back. That’s part of the reason why he felt honored Thursday to present to Fort Hays State University a $1 million check from the Robert and Patricia Schmidt estate to be used for student scholarships.
“We are quite honored to represent the estate of my mother and father,” said Tony Schmidt, the oldest of the three children of Robert and Patricia Schmidt. Tony, who lives in Lawrence, was accompanied at a morning news conference on the FHSU campus by his wife, Loreta.
“This gift to the FHSU Foundation is a culmination of Dad’s lifetime,” Tony Schmidt said.
The estate gift benefits the Robert E. and Patricia A. Schmidt Family Foundation Scholarship through the FHSU Foundation. This latest gift from the Schmidts pushes their total giving to FHSU over the $4.5 million mark.
“We are here to honor a family that is an icon of our community,” said Jason Williby, president and CEO of the FHSU Foundation. “Bob and Pat Schmidt’s generosity will literally affect thousands, if not tens of thousands, of students. If you were lucky enough to know Bob and Pat, you knew of their generosity to the entire Tiger community.”
Some of those gifts have the Schmidts’ name attached, such as the Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center in Sheridan Hall and the Schmidt-Bickle Indoor Training Facility.
But there have been numerous other notable contributions, including those toward the construction of the Robbins Center, renovations in Picken Hall and Sheridan Hall, the Sternberg Museum of Natural History and the Dr. Edward H. Hammond Endowed Chair Fund.
In highlighting the generosity of the Schmidts, Dr. Andy Tompkins used three words to describe the couple.
“Several synonyms for generosity help create a more complete picture of the hearts of Bob and Pat toward this university and this community, and they are goodness, kindness and unselfishness,” said Tompkins, interim president of FHSU. “We have often spoken of the joy of giving at these press conferences, and for Bob and Pat, joy was the emotion that came from a generous heart built on goodness, kindness and unselfishness.”
A native of La Crosse, Bob Schmidt stayed close to home to attend Fort Hays Kansas State College (now FHSU), where he met his future wife, Pat, also a student at Fort Hays State.
Bob graduated from FHSU in 1950, and relying on the foundation he gained from his education there, he went on to become a renowned broadcaster and eventual owner of KAYS Inc. before retiring in 1998.
Along the way, Bob Schmidt become a Hays icon, both through his leadership and his philanthropy. He died this past August, two years after his wife of 69 years died.
“It was Fort Hays State that helped him prepare for what he was to become,” Tony said of his father, who graduated from FHSU with a business degree in 1950. “It all started for them here at Fort Hays State.”
Gifts to Fort Hays State are 100 percent tax deductible. To learn more about the FHSU Foundation and how you can support FHSU, visit http://foundation.fhsu.edu or contact their offices at 785-628-5620 or [email protected]
One student who has already benefitted greatly from the Schmidts’ scholarships is Hannah Keil, Hays, a graduate student majoring in speech-language pathology.
Because of the intensity of that master’s program, Keil said it would have been difficult to work while pursuing her degree. Had it not been for the generous scholarship she received from the Schmidt Family Foundation Scholarship, she might have had to take out a student loan.
“It is support like this that has me fortunate enough to be graduating completely debt free,” Keil said, “which I recognize is something that most college students today are not able to say. I am so thankful to Bob and Pat Schmidt for their generosity. It is my hope that one day as a speech-language pathologist I can give back to my community in the way that Bob and Pat Schmidt gave back to theirs.”
Tompkins, whose last day on campus as interim president is today, had one last comment before accepting the $1 million check from Tony Schmidt.
“Thank you to Bob and Pat Schmidt and their family,” he said, “for forever changing Fort Hays State University.”
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