David T. Schmitt died on Saturday, March 22, 2014, after a long illness. He was born on July 8, 1924 in Norwalk, Connecticut, the fifth son of Carl and Gertrude Schmitt.
At the age of eighteen, while still in high school, he was drafted into the U. S. Army, beginning his service in March 1943 as a member of the legendary 10th Mountain Division (the “ski troops”). After a year and a half of training in the mountains of Colorado, he served in Italy along with his brother Peter as a Technical Sergeant (Communications) in the Headquarters Division, seeing combat in the Italian campaign of 1944-45.
In April 1953 he married Louise Stitt; they would have eight children. During the 1960s he worked alongside his brother John at Thomas More School, a Catholic boys’ boarding school in Harrisville, New Hampshire. After the school closed in 1971, he moved his family to Canaan, Connecticut, where he lived the rest of his life.
David Schmitt is remembered by his family and friends as a loving, humble, and wise man. In his last years he showed remarkable patience and cheerfulness in the face of illness and the loss of his beloved wife, Louise.
His funeral mass was celebrated by his son, Rev. Thomas Schmitt, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Canaan on March 26. He is survived by his daughter and six sons, as well as his sister, five of his brothers, and numerous grandchildren. His was preceded in death by his wife of over 50 years, and son David, Jr., who died in 2007.
A number of years ago he wrote down some recollections of his father and of his life growing up in a family of ten children in Silvermine, Connecticut. We will be highlighting these stories here in the next few weeks. A particularly vivid memory concerning himself and his father he called “Bear in the Coal Bin.”
When I was about six it was my job in the family to get the coal from the separate cellar (in the hillside) where the coal bin was located. You had to go out the front door and around the side of the house to get there. I was afraid of that cellar because I was afraid of the dark, and the coal bin was always dark because there was no light bulb in there. The question was, was I more afraid of Dad’s spanking for disobeying, or the dark–it was clearly a case of which was the worse! Besides, I was sure there were bears in the coal-bin.
So I hesitated in getting the coal—no one in the family knew why. I guess they thought I was just lazy; they had no reason to think otherwise. I used to fill the scuttle half-full at a time because otherwise it was too heavy for me to get it off the ground to carry.
One day it was about noon and mother was still begging me to please “get the coal.” When Dad came home from his studio for supper, I made the mistake of letting him hear Mom still asking me to “get the coal.” He didn’t tolerate disobedience, and he taught me right then and there that Fathers should be feared much more than either imaginary bears or the dark. I got the worse licking I ever got from him! Later I found myself getting the coal in the dark, bears and all. I was no longer afraid of the dark or the bears—it was amazing!