Leo J. Schmidt
Leo J. Schmidt, an influential educator and devoted husband, father and grandfather, died on Sept. 3 surrounded by his loving family. He was 93.
Born in Omaha, Nebraska, to Mark and Shirley Schmidt, Leo grew up with his older brother, Aaron, in Fremont, where their parents owned a small grocery store. After completing his college education and army service, Leo headed west to California.
While working as a speech therapist for L.A. Unified School District, he met his future wife, a vivacious teacher named Sylvia Weinfeld. The couple raised two young daughters as Leo returned to school to earn his doctorate in education at the University of Southern California.
In 1967, Leo joined the California State University of Fullerton faculty, launching a distinguished career as a professor and the eventual chair of the department of special education.
His passion was training the next generation of educators how to teach children with developmental disabilities. Over 27 years, he taught hundreds of students, many who cited his mentorship as the inspiration for their own academic careers.
Leo is survived by Sylvia, his wife of 61 years, their two daughters and son-in-laws: Barbara and David Serby; Elaine and Darren Haber, and granddaughter, Lucy Haber.
Funeral services will be held on Thursday, Sept. 7, at 10 a.m. at Hillside Memorial Park in Los Angeles. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to Magen David Adom and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.