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Melvin T. ‘Mel’ Schmidt, 85

| June 28, 2020 1:00 AM

Melvin T. “Mel” Schmidt, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, entered into the presence of God on June 17, 2020, at the age of 85.

Mel was born Sept. 8, 1934, in Isabel, S.D., to Otto and Frieda (Klein) Schmidt. The Schmidts moved from South Dakota to Coeur d’Alene early in his life, and it quickly became the community in which he would always call home. He attended Coeur d’Alene High School, where he was a multi-sport star for the Vikings, excelling in football, basketball and track. In addition to his love for athletics, he was involved in the Idaho National Guard, where he belonged to the 148th Field Artillery Division, from 1949 until 1960.

After graduating from CHS in 1953, he headed south to Moscow, where he attended the University of Idaho on a football scholarship. With the Vandals, he was a tailback/fullback, earning a reputation for being a tough and physical player. Off the gridiron at Idaho, he spent four years in the Reserves Officer Program. Upon graduating from the U of I in 1957, he taught for one year before his collegiate football career earned him an opportunity in professional football with the Green Bay Packers and legendary coach, Vince Lombardi. Mel spent the 1958 preseason with the Packers before returning home to Coeur d’Alene to continue teaching.

He accomplished what he considered his greatest feat in life in the summer of 1957, marrying Jacqueline O’Toole on June 8 of that year. As all who knew Mel can confirm, Jackie was the greatest joy and love of his life. He first began chasing after her as a young child when he saw her on a Coeur d’Alene beach, and from that moment on, he knew she was the one for him. While Jackie played hard to get for a couple years, she eventually gave in and they shared 63 amazing years of marriage that brought them three children.

Professionally, Mel was a teacher and a coach during the school year and a builder during the summers. He began his teaching and coaching career in Coeur d’Alene, where he worked at both the junior and senior high schools from 1957 through 1960. Following those four years, he would spend the next 33 years in Spokane area schools: West Valley High School (1960-61), Shadle Park High School (1961-64) and Ferris High School (1964-93). While in the Spokane schools, he was heavily involved in athletics in addition to teaching, coaching football, basketball and gymnastics. He also served as the golf coordinator for the Spokane School District. Mel reached the pinnacle of his professional career at Ferris, where he served as the athletic director for the Saxons.

Upon retirement in 1993, he and Jackie moved permanently to their home on Hayden Lake, which he proudly named Camp Run-a-Muk, despite visitors (his grandchildren in particular) being subject to quite a few rules. He was very active in his retirement and was known for often saying, “I am not retired, I am just tired.” In retirement he was a member of the Vandal Booster Club, the “I” Club, the Hayden Lake Watershed Board and he was a volunteer firefighter for the Northern Lakes Fire District.

In his spare time, he loved supporting Vandal football, traveling around the Northwest to cheer on his grandchildren in sports and activities, visiting with old and new friends, boating, fishing and working on projects at Camp Run-a-Muk. Mel also loved to travel with Jackie, taking trips to Europe and all over the United States. One of their most memorable trips was to England in 1991, where he attended the Chunnel Grand Opening with several good friends.

While Mel no longer inhabits the Earth, he has left behind a legacy that will be known and felt for generations to come. A true hero in the eyes of his family and friends, he lived a life of contentment, joy, love, thankfulness, humility, hard work, toughness, humor and peace. To the end, he spoke of his life without regret, telling all who would listen about his experiences and lessons throughout the years. While Mel was a man of tremendous strength, he was also one to show affection and communicate his love to those whom he cherished greatly, revealing genuine emotional vulnerability.

The great Viking and Vandal is survived by his wife, Jacqueline; daughter, Karen (Todd Langerveld); daughter, Connie Stark; son, Kevin (Dianna) Schmidt; grandchildren, Tyler, Corey and Melissa Langerveld, Kat and Hanna Stark, Cameron and Karsten Schmidt; brother, Loren (Penny) Schmidt; and several nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his father, Otto; mother, Freida; and sisters, Lavina (Punky) Hensley and Maxine Hulick.

The family is planning a private graveside memorial. For any memorial gifts or donations in honor of Mel, please send them to Hospice of North Idaho, 2290 W. Prairie Ave., Coeur d’Alene, ID 83815, or support Idaho Vandal Football by making a donation to the Vandal QB Club (contact J.D. Johnson, Director of Football Operations, jdjohnson@uidaho.edu).

Yates Funeral Home is entrusted with final arrangements. Please visit Mel’s online memorial and sign his guest book at www.yatesfuneralhomes.com.