M. Judith Schmidt Memorial Scholarship

M. Judith Schmidt Memorial Scholarship

Judy graduated from Cotter High School, Winona State University and continued her education to attain two master’s degrees. She started her teaching career at Loretto High School, Caledonia, MN, and then spent 32 years at Houston Public Schools, retiring in 1999. She was later an instructor in the master’s of education program at St. Mary’s University, Winona, teaching future teachers.

Judy was a beloved English and Speech teacher. She served students as the play director, speech coach, and cheerleader advisor. Judy was well known in the area for the countless number of theater productions she directed. She produced shows at Houston High School and community theaters in Houston, Austin and Winona. Always civic-minded, with a passion for her community, she served on the Houston City Council for 12 years. She was a finalist for the Minnesota Teacher of the Year. Judy was also appointed by the Governor to the Minnesota State Arts Board and served as its chair. She worked in Congressmen Tim Penny’s office in Washington DC as a part of the Teacher / Intern Program. Judy was also awarded grants by the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. A strong advocate of the arts, Judy served on the Commonweal Theatre Board in Lanesboro and was a contributor to the Great River Shakespeare Festival. Judy was also an avid bridge player and served as president of the Westfield Bridge Club.

Her loyal commitment to family and community provided abundance. She was the “hostess with the mostess”, literally and metaphorically making room for everyone at her table. Her passion for teaching and learning radiated from within her heart to the hearts of everyone with whom she came into contact.

Judy had a natural ability to get and hold the attention of a crowd, was the pied-piper of children, and an advocate for the underdog. She loved fiercely and unconditionally with a generous heart. The ultimate communicator, she greatly respected the individual, truly listened to each person’s story, and nurtured and encouraged them to pave their own path in life.

Among Judy’s many legacies: she inspired generations of students to love great literature, live theater and the arts; helped people find their voices and to follow their dreams; she believed in people and had the absolute ability to cause even non-believers to believe in themselves; she would break into her rendition of “Old Man River” at the drop of a hat – and the song was not just on her lips – it was in her heart.

As a visionary, she saw the hope for tomorrow, and she had the natural ability to collaborate with others to bring dreams to fruition. To that end she championed a new flood control system for the community of Houston by working with Congressman Penny and the Corp of Engineers while serving on the Houston City Council.

For those of us closest to her, we know that her real gift was the nurturing and love of her family. We have only to look at the faces of her grandchildren to see her legacy live. Not only was she loved, she was abundantly loved in return.

Scholarship contacts are Gary Schmidt (husband of Judy), and James and Catherine Schmidt (children of Judy).