In memoriam—John S. Schmitt, 1927-2012

Carl Schmitt’s seventh son, my father John Stuart Schmitt, died two years ago this past Friday, August 22.  This brief poem by Carl Schmitt captures in an uncanny way the character of a man who carried on his father’s legacy in an exceptionally fruitful, yet unassuming way.


We felt the stable universe was in his soul
Where body joined it.  Quietly the two were one.
We saw him when we saw soil-knit, the giant bole
Of some great tree; we heard him in the benison
Of bells in villages . . . and now he’s gone.
His eyes could look on visions for his heart was clean,
And in humility he knew the sins of man
Because he knew himself.  And sometimes in the sheen
Of rivers we could see ourselves, a caravan
Winding away to the sea.  And now he’s gone.

August 25, 1927


John, oil on canvas, c. 1945, 18 x 15 in.

6 thoughts on “In memoriam—John S. Schmitt, 1927-2012

  1. How beautiful and such a perfect poem to remember your Dad. I will always remember his smiling face and his kindness when we took the long ride to New Hampshire to visit. I don’t think I ever heard a harsh word and for me those are wonderful cherished memories from my childhood.

  2. Such a beautiful poem and a moving tribute to your father, whom I remember well and fondly. May his legacy in education live on and may we continue to share in his vision of the beautiful, true and good life. I’m blessed to have known and worked with him.

  3. Dear Sam, Thank you for this poem that blessed my day. With prayers for the soul of your father of good memory, Melissa Steenson (p.s., I have a picture of him and Stephanie at her graduation, that’s the picture that comes to mind when I think of him.)

  4. I remember John Schmitt because I attended Thomas Moore School in the late 60’s. I was a a terrible student and not well behaved. Several times I ended up in his office. He was always kind to me. There was always an air of encouragement in his council. Today I’m a strong believer in God and His Word, the Bible. He was a good example in that area. I also remember the time his son died. What a terrible thing. He had a brother who lived on campus. I spent two years at the school and have many good memories. Richard Green

    • Dear Mr. Green,

      Thanks for your comment and your memories. I’ve heard similar comments from other TMS alumni i have met.

      You may or may not be aware that an off-Broadway play, Prodigal Son, written and directed by TMS alumni John Patrick Shanley, had a run in New York this past spring. It’s a dramatization of Shanley’s life at the school at about the same time you were there (1965-68 to be exact). I was at a performance with a group of TMS alumni and met some of your classmates.

      My brother-in-law wrote a moving account of his experience of the play on his blog which I thought you would enjoy.

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