John Anton Schmitt, age 80, a long-time resident of Springville Utah, died there on September 5, 2020, following a brief illness. John, the third of three children, was born August 31, 1940 in San Jose, California to Earl O. G. Schmitt, M.D. and Isabelle McChrystal Schmitt.
His oldest sibling and much loved and admired brother Greg Schmitt of Aptos, California, preceded him in death. His sister Gretchen Schmitt Cody of Burlingame, California, with whom he was very close, survives him.
Surviving him also are children Michael Bell of Las Vegas, Nevada, Michelle Bell McKinney of Ashburn, Virginia, Matthew Harold Schmitt of Lincoln, California, and Thomas Christopher Schmitt of Centerport, New York.
John attended St. Leo’s Grammar School in San Jose, graduating in the class of 1953. He continued his education at Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose and graduated with the class of 1958. He then studied at University of Portland from 1958 through 1961, and in 1962 graduated from San Jose State College with a Bachelor of Art Degree in Elementary Education.
His teaching career spanned forty years in Nevada, Oregon and California. In all his classes he was known for his fun and interesting teaching style, and especially his wit and humor.
John, affectionately known as “UJ” by his loving extended family, retired in the early 2000s. At that point he loved to travel on his own or with family, to meet close and often more distant relatives. He loved to immerse himself in the history of places where his ancestors had lived, observing with joy the varied people and their habits, and sometimes just the absurdities of everyday life.
He traveled western states and the mid-west as an avid researcher studying both sides of his family; resulting from his research is a comprehensive archive relating to his ancestors. He had great interest, spanning 50 years, of the mining activities of ancestors; of particular interest, on his maternal side, was John McChrystal, his grandfather and owner and superintendent of the Godiva gold and silver mine in Eureka, Utah. Thus, John ultimately settled in the nearby town of Springville. As a result of this avid interest in mining and history, John became a history advisor, advising and funding several historical writers of his acquaintance.
John had a quick wit and a notable sense of humor and was a prolific correspondent with family and friends. He was aided in all his endeavors by his remarkable memory. John corresponded mostly by mail. He had a gift for making humorous “flyers”, as he called them, and sending them to various family members; he was therefore present in their minds, almost daily. His family will miss “UJ”, as well as his regular emails and intense good use and support of the postal service.
A celebration of John’s life will be planned for 2021 when an in-person gathering is feasible.
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