In Memory

James Schmeling

James Schmeling

A cool mist lingering on a crystal clear blue lake, indiscernible from the sky above; a scene that is at once bright and sunny as well as cool and damp; a lone figure on the quiet shore casting a hopeful line into still waters, eager to catch a waiting large-mouth. Our son Bryan has hanging in his home, this picture of his father at Camp Croix that not only stirs vivid memories of a time long gone, but also puts me in mind of how Jim might be spending eternity in heaven. 

Fishing was one activity that Jim Schmeling adored. Golf was another. In the 30 years we were married, Jim fished and golfed, golfed and fished, often with his sons, and often with friends. Jim had lots of friends; work friends, church friends, best friends. Many of those friends have shared memories with me these eight and a half years since he’s died, that seem as vivid as if they had happened yesterday. He would be happy about that. Others carry the loss of their dear friend in their own private ways.

People from his work still call occasionally to say how often they think of Jim. He worked at the same place (although under many different names – Sperry, Unisys, Lockheed-Martin) for 30 years and he made a lot of friends. They’ll share a story or two and laugh out loud. They love to reminisce about him, and I appreciate their memories.

Pastor Stadler will call and tell me about a particularly good round of golf he shot, and he always tells me how much he appreciates what he learned from his favorite golf buddy. 

Some of the best stories come from his fishing buddies. “Remember the time Jim fell in the lake…stepped in the ice fishing hole…dropped his rod in the lake nearly caught that fish? They get together and laugh until they can’t laugh any more.

Some share school stories and laugh about people I’ve never met. Because they shared his life, they share mine as well. One particular memory that stands out concerns white paint, Herman the German, a police cruiser, and a telltale large handprint, forever emblazoned on Lee Hanke Kruse’s sweatshirt!

Our children carry the richest memories of their Dad and do their best to carry on his legacy. Jeff and his wife Cory, have three sons, Zach, Alex and Cameron. The two older boys had the chance to know their Grandpa (a title which he feared made him a whole lot older than he cared to be, but a title he learned to love nonetheless). Cameron, whose sixth birthday we recently celebrated, was born after Jim died. Cameron has his Grandpa’s blue eyes, and his love of life. Jim would be so happy to see that Jeff has such a wonderful family, a job in radio that he loves, and a lovely home of his own. Neither Bryan’s wife, Kathleen, nor his three daughters, 3-year-old Caroline and 18-month old identical twins, Elizabeth and Abigail had the opportunity to know Jim. He sure would have enjoyed those girls. After raising a household of boys, girls would have delighted him to no end. I know it would have been nearly impossible for him to live so far away from them. The Bronx is a long way away from West St. Paul. Jim certainly would be proud of Bryan who has a beautiful family and a brilliant career ahead of him with Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

Randy would sure love to be able to share with his Dad his great success on the stage in the Twin Cities, and in Door County, Wisconsin. Leading roles at the Pantages, The History Theatre, the Ordway, the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre, and many others would have made Jim very proud. Randy shares his Dad’s gift for making people feel good and people love and respect him. He’s a joy to work with, is Thoroughly professional, and he cares deeply about the world around him. Jim was always very proud of his sons’ accomplishments, and his friends would tell you how much he loved to talk about them. But more than that, Jim would be proud of the fact that his sons are all exemplary men; kind, thoughtful, decent, God-fearing, and loving; all traits they inherited from their Dad. I’m sure he is very happy to know they take good care of their Mom. They cheer me when I am sad, give me their total love and support, and most important, they make me laugh just like their Dad always did. While his life here on this earth ended on October 27, 1999, his friends, his sons, his grandchildren and his loving wife carry on Jim Schmeling’s legacy of love and laughter. Jim has since been joined in heaven by his father, Gerhard, his sister, Dorothy and her husband, Ken; and his Sister-in-law, Ellen. Two of his dear friends, Joe and Jim, are probably up there fishing with him right now, unless of course, they have a tee-time to make.

Vicki Schmeling, July 1. 2008