We are saddened to report that two beloved members of the Lakeland family, Lew and Gerry (Matzinger) Schmidt, were killed Wednesday in an auto accident near their home outside Elkhart Lake. Lew was 80, and Gerry was 79.
A leader in Lakeland's creative arts division, Lew, a 1958 Lakeland graduate, served as Lakeland professor of music education and director of bands from 1982-98. During his tenure, the band program and music education curriculum were considered among the best in Wisconsin. He was also chair of the creative arts division.
Gerry, who also attended Lakeland as a student, worked as a secretary and support person in both the office of the president and general counsel, as well as for the alumni relations and advancement offices.
Lew and Gerry were married on June 7, 1958.
Lew taught music in Wisconsin schools for 41 years until he retired in 1998. Prior to his 16 years at Lakeland, he spent 25 years in the public school system, the last 16 of which were as head of the department and high school band director at River Valley High School in Spring Green, Wis.
Lew grew up on the Lakeland campus, as his father, Clarence, taught religion at Mission House.
Lew won numerous awards and honors during his long career. During Lakeland's Sesquicentennial celebration in 2012, he was inducted into the Arts Department Wall of Distinction. In 1986, he received the Outstanding Service to the College Award. In 1996, he was named to the Sheboygan County Music Wall of Fame at the Fountain Park band shell in Sheboygan.
His Lakeland accomplishments include a concert band tour of Czechoslovakia in 1990, a performance in France in 1994 and performances at Wisconsin Bandmasters Association conferences in 1988 and 1993.
Lew taught at Lakeland's Music Camp beginning in the 1960s and served as camp director from 1984-98. He served as a field representative and consultant for the Wisconsin School Music Association, and served as an adjudicator and clinician many times.
In 2014, he served as a guest conductor for a piece during the fall Lakeland Band concert.
Lew received his master's degree in music education from VanderCook College of Music in Chicago in 1963, and later was awarded an honorary doctorate from VanderCook. He was also longtime conductor of the Kiel Municipal Band. He served on the alumni relations board of directors for both Lakeland and VanderCook, and was also a member of VanderCook's board of trustees, including service as board chair.
Lew played many years in the Blaster's Golf Classic, and the Rev. Clarence T. and Mary C. Schmidt Scholarship is named for Lew's parents.