The Life of Louise D. Schmidt

Louise Elsie DeBatin Schmidt

Louise was born at 8:40 pm on August 10, 1928, during a thunderstorm, at her maternal grandparents’ home at Church Road and Hancock Street, Lansdale, PA. Her grandfather named her for her Aunt Louise and her mother, Elsie. She had a happy childhood and was the only child of Edward and Elsie DeBatin for eight and a half years until her sister Marlene came along, followed by sisters Dorothea and Sandra. 

Louise started first grade in 1934, played Little Miss Muffet in the first grade play, and remembers the biggest current event happening at that time being the arrival of the Dionne Quintuplets. In eighth grade, the United States entered World War II after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  By ninth grade, Louise was the messenger for the town’s air raid wardens and her father was the air raid warden for their street.  Louise practiced drills riding her bicycle back and forth between air raid wardens delivering messages throughout the town of Lansdale. 

During the War, Louise and childhood friend Marie Davis, both in the Girl Scouts, sold war bonds and stamps to aid the War effort every Saturday night at Woolworths. Louise achieved the highest Girl Scout honor, earning all the merit badges available. She also learned to play the bugle for the Girl Scouts, playing taps at the end of each meeting.  Learning a lifelong love of gardening from her father, Louise worked for Burpee’s during the summers, starting in her sophomore year in High School through her sophomore year in college, bicycling ten miles from Lansdale to Doylestown.  Louise was part of the team that developed the Big Boy Tomato, hand cross-pollinating tomato plants at Burpee’s Fordhook Farms and Show Gardens. One year, Louise went with a group of Burpee Girls to the Waldorf Astoria in New York City to introduce the Luther Burbank Zinnia in the Grand Ballroom. She lent her photograph from this event to Burpee’s 100th Anniversary Celebration.

Louise graduated from Lansdale High School in June 1946 and that autumn entered West Chester State Teachers College, now West Chester University, majoring in elementary school education. Later that fall, while roller skating with friend Joann Burns, Louise was briefly introduced to a dashing young man who apparently made a very small impression on her. She would not meet Arling “Pud” Schmidt again until June 1948, on a blind date set up by Marie Davis. Louise and Pud traveled home to the Lansdale area every weekend to see each other while they were in college.

Louise graduated from West Chester in 1950 and began teaching second grade in Hatfield, PA. Louise and Pud married the following year, 1951, honeymooning on Canada’s Gaspe Peninsula. Louise taught at Hatfield until 1953 when Louise and Pud, with the newest addition to their household, oldest daughter, Cynthia, moved to Ridley Manor in 1954.  Continuing her love of gardening, Louise was a founding member of the Ridley Manor Garden Club, serving as its President in 1964-1966. In 1966 the Schmidt family, now five with daughters Debra and Wendy, and their poodle Pepi, moved to Ridley Creek Road, in Media.  Louise worked as a substitute teacher for the Rose Tree Media School District, then full time as Head Start Teacher. 

August vacations were spent at Lake Wallenpaupack in the Poconos and Ocean City, New Jersey, with Louise's mother Elsie, and sisters Marlene and her family, Dorothea, and Sandra. At the Lake, Pud, Al and kids caught the fish, Louise and Marlene cooked them, with the children providing comic relief and a lot of laundry. One memorable week was spent in Ocean City in a three-story frame house of ancient vintage, across the street from the railroad, resulting in rumbling and vibrations so strong that dust rained down on the occupants every time the train passed.

Sometimes Louise, Pud, and their daughters made car trips during summer vacations, memorably to Expo '67 in Montreal, Canada, and to Daytona Beach, Florida, where Pud interviewed for a job with the space program. Louise, and children, didn’t like the heat or the bugs, most notably the cloud of mosquitos that descended upon them when the family stopped for lunch at a roadside picnic table and the giant water bugs in the swimming pool.

After the children were grown, Louise and Pud traveled to many destinations in the United States and Europe, including all fifty states. Daughter Wendy traveled to Hawaii, Alaska, and the Panama Canal with them, and to many destinations in the lower 48 states, including the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Mount Washington and Lake Louise.

Throughout the years, Louise maintained many strong friendships, especially with her West Chester classmates, meeting regularly from graduation in 1950 to this day, 68 years later.  Louise’s life was immeasurably enriched by many friendships, especially Marie Davis Boulton, whom she knew the longest.

Over the years Louise and Pud’s family expanded to include Debra’s husband, Lee, three grandchildren, Amanda and her husband Kevin, Leon DeMasi and his wife Kristen, and Joseph DeMasi, and three great grandchildren. Louise attended Collenbrook United Church, maintaining six decades of membership, less regularly in the past few years as travel difficulties arose due to health issues. She was the oldest and longest, active member of the church.

She traveled with her daughter Cynthia, who showed her whippets, to many dog events in the United States, and was a member of the American Whippet Club for more than twenty years. Louise enjoyed the camaraderie around the show ring and specialty banquet table, her unique sense of humor the delight of anyone who sat nearby. Louise was a proud spectator at sporting events for daughter, Debra, granddaughter Amanda, and great-grandchildren.

After Louise and Pud spent many happy years on Ridley Creek Road, they downsized to a retirement community in Middletown, DE in 2003, enjoying a quiet rural life and making new friends there. Louise was an enthusiastic member of the Red Hat Society, living its idea of embracing life. In 2015 the couple moved to The Summit in Hockessin for assisted living. Louise, always a social butterfly, participated with Pud in the many activities available and was well loved by the residents and staff, both of which provided support after Pud passed away in 2016. She was involved in the life of The Summit to the last, getting her nails done with sparkles.

She is also survived by her sisters, Marlene Shelly (Allan), Dorothea Pearson (Daniel), and Sandra Philipp (James), and many nieces and nephews.

Services will be June 2, 2018 beginning with visitation at 10 am, service at 11 am, both at Collenbrook United Church, 5920 Township Line Road, Drexel Hill, PA 19026.

Interment 12:30 pm at Arlington Cemetery, 2900 State Road, Drexel Hill, PA 19026. 

Contributions to her memory may be made to Collenbrook United Church or The American Cancer Society.

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The Best Hats

Mom rocking her red hat at the Mother's Day tea last year at the Summit. She loved her tea parties, and we celebrated the royal wedding this year that way.

Posted by Cynthia S on 6/1/2018