Leon B. Schmidt was born on December 28, 1945 and passed peacefully on February 7, 2023 at his beloved Storyhill Farm north of Caldwell. He was the 5th of 8 children born to Lawrence and Anna Linnebur Schmidt and raised on the farm north of Caldwell.
Leon graduated from Caldwell High School in 1963 and went on to attend Kansas State University, graduating with a degree in Agriculture Education. He taught Ag Vo Tech at Fredonia and Caney before working for the US Department of Agriculture in Topeka, Kansas. He then owned a plant nursery in Arkansas City. Upon moving home to farm and raise sheep, he and his siblings built a log cabin on the farm in the fall of 1976. The cabin has now been used by several generations. When he had the opportunity to move Fraizer’s old 1906 house on 49 highway before it was demolished, he moved it to the hill across frozen fields pulled by versatile tractors without breaking a window or cracking the plaster. This hill had 5 elm trees and a lilac hedge, he went about planting trees, painting the barn and adding an “S” to the doors. He planted a Christmas tree farm and also sold pine trees to landscapers. He divided the nearly one-acre farm into separate yards so that he could keep at least the closest yard to the house mowed when he was busy farming. Leon always grew zinnias for his mother to cut for mass services.
Leon’s father recognized him very early on as the “helper” of the family. Leon cherished his family and as the helper, he would help not only family, but anyone in need of help; regardless of the time it took. Perhaps the only time he failed to help a friend was when he forgot to pick up his friend Kathy Williams Risley to ride with him from K-State home one weekend, but she forgave him.
Leon never cared about fortune or prestige, had no desire to be a “big fish in a small pond”. He did serve as a board member and as chairman of the board for the Caldwell Hospital. He was the one that started the petition and got all the signatures to get liquor by the drink in Sumner County and free the dinner clubs from having to keep memberships and liquor cards and become more of a tourist friendly destination.
Leon met Linda and her daughter Ali when they were in the Last Chance having dinner with the hospital administrator. Leon had came in and joined them at the “Round Table” sitting next to Ali, whom kept tugging at Linda’s arm whispering “He’s the nicest man I’ve ever met”. Turns out Ali was right, Leon later got Linda’s number from the hospital administrator and their 31 year journey began.
Together they shared an obsession of collecting plants and repurposing old things for their home and gardens. Together they restored an old building in Caldwell, that would later become, “The Bite”, a restaurant the teens would have a place to work at. Leon absolutely loved the teens that worked there and they never disappointed with their stories of what they’d been up too, which they freely shared with him. It did amaze him that only Andy Webster and Jessica Yunker could count change. The Bite was sold in 2001, only 3 days before September 11th.
Leon and Linda’s mothers were both facing the health challenges of aging and that became the focus. Leon never wanted to retire to town, so they remodeled their home and opened it for fundraisers for the Historical Society, Caldwell Christmas Tours, Garden Tours and for the 4th National Bank in Wellington’s annual fundraiser for charity.
He and Linda loved having Christmas and Halloween parties at Storyhill with friends. They loved their friends Dick Lowe and Ken Henry whether it was meeting at the Last Chance, harrowing drives to neighboring garden tours with Kenny at the wheel, Kenny’s Thanksgiving dinners, celebrating St. Lucia Day, complete with wearing candlelit head pieces and getting ready for the Christmas season by watching “The Ref”.
Leon was most delighted at impromptu gatherings in which he was the only guy. If you were a Risley girl, Williams girl, Rice girl, related to or friends of them and Karen Carr and Karyn Woodward, then it was “Come sit by me or come on out for an impromptu party.” Otherwise, he would just call Kathy for the latest scoop.
Leon was always a prankster with Linda or neglected to mention certain things that came as quite a surprise when he finally got around to mentioning. When Linda and Ali rented the now purple house on north Main Street that Leon told them was for rent, and Leon came to visit, he announced “This still looks the same as when Mrs. Metzinger was laid out in the parlor.” (What!?) Another was when Leon and Linda came home from a late night out and were smooching in front of the barn in the moonlight, Linda noticed they were surrounded by Leon's 30+ yellow cats. Leon said "Oh they act weird sometimes and it's probably just because of the old murder back in the 1940’s right over there where the old barn foundation is. (What?!) Linda had already lived on the farm for several years at this time. There were many many others.
Leon is preceded in death by his parents, brothers, Robert “Shorty”, and Clarence Schmidt. Sister and brother-in-law, Bernice “Babs” and Phillip Boerstler, brother-in-law Wesley Helena, nephew Tony Reece, niece, Susan Dvorak, and great nephew Landon Schmidt.
He is survived by his wife Linda of the home, daughter Alison Hughet (Lannie Hanks), grandchildren Elizabeth, Samuel and Zach; bonus granddaughter Nicole “Kiki” and bonus daughter Alea Haggerty all of Wellington, Kansas. He is also survived by his brothers Marvin (Linda) of Denver, Colorado and Steven (Lori) of Caldwell, sisters, Genevieve (James) Mash of Beebe, Arkansas, Barbara Helena of Wichita, Kansas and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
Recitation of the Rosary will be held at 7:00 p.m., TUESDAY, February 14, 2023. Mass of the Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m. WEDNESDAY, February 15, 2023, both at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church with Fr. Thomas Hoisington as celebrant.
Memorials may be made to the Caldwell Historical Society, Caldwell Firefighters Association or to the Caldwell Regional Medical Center & EMS and sent in care of the mortuary.