Edgar Schmidt Story

How do you say “life well-lived”? The Inspiring Story of Edgar Schmidt

Edgar Schmidt was raised in the St. Louis area in the small town of Alton, IL and had passion for exploring and giving back not only in his community, but communities around the world. Schmidt was interviewed on Sept. 21, 2019, just over a month before he passed away at the age of 80 on Oct. 27.

Schmidt left St. Louis to work as an educator in Los Angeles and Eastern Africa, and eventually returned to the States to attend the University of California – Berkeley. He then worked his way around the world serving as a bell-hop at a ski resort in Austria, an excavator of Viking graves in Sweden and a fruit picker on an Israeli kibbutz.

In 1967, he returned to the St. Louis area to be closer to family and started teaching high school math at Horton Watkins in the Ladue School District. Schmidt retired from teaching in 1993 and continued to travel with his partner Betsey Anderson, spending time biking and canoeing Missouri’s streams.

“I was never good at spending money,” says Schmidt with quiet chuckle.

While he may not have been good at spending money on himself, he certainly excelled at sharing it – funding many of his environmental, educational and international interests over the years. He partnered with The St. Louis Community Foundation (STLCF) to create a forever fund that will continue to fund many of his passions. Schmidt worked with Mike Mueller at Wells Fargo to manage his investments and charitable pursuits for many years.

Schmidt started his legacy fund in 2006, as part of his estate planning. Christine Burghoff, Giving Strategist at St. Louis Community Foundation, visited with him many times over the years to discuss his concerns and see if his designated charities might have changed. Edgar, a generous and engaged man, added even more causes to fund in perpetuity, including the “Skimiti” Scholarship, naming it for his Swahili nickname when he lived in Kenya.

“I believe in stewardship,” Schmidt says. “It’s one of the reasons why I have partnered with the Community Foundation – they make sure that our contributions are used as intended. I like that.”

He has left his philanthropic mark on educational and environmental initiatives that literally span the globe. He’s funded scholarships for young people in St. Louis and sent funds to the schools in East Africa where he taught so many years ago. He’s also helped the Missouri Prairie Foundation buy, preserve and maintain some of the state’s last untouched/unplowed prairie land.

“St. Louis is important to me, because I was raised and have lived most of my adult life here,” Schmidt says. “Through the St. Louis Community Foundation, I want to ensure that this region has the means to address issues and opportunities that aren’t even on our radar now,” he concluded.

If you were inspired by Edgar Schmidt’s story and you are interested in learning more about legacy funds, contact a member of the St. Louis Community Foundation Giving Strategies team at givingstrategies@stlgives.org.