Richard John Schmidt, 75, of Eau Claire, WI, died from complications of Covid-19 on February 6th, 2022, leaving behind grieving family and friends who will forever remember him as a supportive brother, a loving father, a doting grandfather, and a caring friend.
Richard (or Dick as he preferred to be called) was born in La Crosse, WI in 1946 to Leo Schmidt and Virginia (Riley) Schmidt, who died of leukemia when he was nine. He attended Blessed Sacrament Elementary School and Aquinas High School. After high school, Dick went into the Army Reserves where he served as a records clerk. When he left the military, he enrolled at the Western Wisconsin Technical College and graduated with a degree in business and marketing. He joined K-Mart’s management training program, which lead to a variety of positions across the Midwest.
In 1970, Dick was called back to Lake City, MN to go into the car business with his father. This is where he met his future wife, LuAnn Reetz, when she brought her car in for service. After a whirlwind, one-year courtship, they married in 1972 in the middle of a blizzard and went on to start a family in Viroqua, WI, where his father Leo had bought a Chevrolet dealership.
When Leo died in 1983, Dick took over the family business, Schmidt Motors, and grew to be a successful CEO. He had a mind for advertising and billed himself as “The Small-Town Dealer with the Big Heart,” “The Lee Iacocca of Viroqua,” and, after a series of cardiac troubles in the 1980s, “The Small Town Dealer with the NEW Heart.” When not at work, he loved fishing in Lake Michigan, playing poker, attending his daughters’ sports, art and music events, and going on family trips.
After retiring, Dick and LuAnn enjoyed yearly trips to Door County, WI and Branson, MO, as well as trips to Florida with the grandkids. He loved being a reading buddy to students from Viroqua Elementary, as well as being a mediator in the small claims court for Vernon County. He and LuAnn were active in their respective churches, and they loved volunteering. After LuAnn was diagnosed with leukemia in 2018, Dick cared for her until she passed in 2021, one year shy of their 50th anniversary. Later that year, Dick moved to a condo in Eau Claire, WI to be nearer to family. Despite the difficulties he had experienced, he never lost his optimism or his faith.
Dick was preceded in death by his mother, Virginia (Riley) Schmidt; father, Leo Schmidt; and wife, LuAnn (Reetz) Schmidt.
He is survived by his brother, Robert Schmidt of Bradenton FL; his sister, Peggy (Kevin) Dubois of Lacrosse, WI; daughters, Tricia (Michael Bauch) Schmidt of St. Paul, MN and Heidi (Jerim) DesJarlais of Chippewa Falls, WI. Dick has five grandchildren: Oliver (15), Isaiah (15), Riley (9), Vaughn (9) and Emily (3) and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
No immediate service is planned; instead, there will be a service and a burial ceremony in Viroqua in late spring. Donations made in Dick’s name will be issued to Aquinas High School, Western Wisconsin Technical College, and Paula’s Purse.
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