[Note: Of all the ubiquitous annual reviews, my favorite is The Lives They Lived in the New York Times. Death and the assessment of one’s life is among my favorite things to ponder. A good funeral makes me want to be more faithful. A good life brings everlasting inspiration.]
Tom Schmid taught me four things:
- How to grow older.
- How to love my spouse.
- How to be a pastor.
- How to be a parent.
When we were colleagues in National Capital Presbytery, Tom was the wise older colleague without being that guy. Clergy colleagues, you are probably familiar with those guys who need to pastor-splain even to those of us who’ve been in professional ministry for a while now. (Seriously, I met a pastor who told me how to officiate a wedding for 30 minutes at an ordination party in 2017. We’ve been ordained about the same number of years.)
Instead, Tom shared how having younger friends kept him sharp and how eating hot dogs – at least twice a year – was life-giving and how there was no “T” in Schmid and how being a “Golden Roo” was the best and how Beth was perfect.
He adored his kids and grandkids, and he encouraged them to be the people God created them to be.
When Tom became my second friend to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2017, I was stunned. We had just hung out in Sherman, TX in May and he was as chipper as ever. At least that’s what he said.
Tom breathed his last on Christmas Day which is fitting in terms of what he believed about both the Incarnation and the Resurrection. How beautiful to experience both miracles on the same day.
He was a great and good man.
Photo of Tom from his son Bennett.
Tom was our pastor and friend here in Lincoln NE. Listening to him “preach” from the pulpit was like having him sit across the table from you and talking just to you. Tom and my husband kept in touch after he left Lincoln. As a going away gift my husband, Ross who died from Pancreatic Cancer on Christmas Eve 2016, gave Tom a blue oxford cloth button-down collar short sleeved shirt. They both loved those shirts. Tom was before his time for our church wearing Birkenstocks and blue oxford cloth shirts. His last sermon for us included a standing ovation. He was more than a little surprised.
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Tom was our pastor in San Antonio in the late 1970’s until we moved in the 1980’s. He often began his sermons by saying, “There’s good news!” We took those words with us and frequently use them even today, and each time I hear them I remember that twinkle in his eye and the kindness in his voice.