Herta A SchmidtDecember 1, 1921 ~ June 17, 2017 (age 95)
Herta Schmidt lived a truly American life. She was born on December 1, 1921, in middle America—St. Louis, Missouri—to German speaking Austrian immigrants—Alois and Maria Altenhofer. Herta started school knowing no English and graduated from high school fully fluent. She worked during World War II in a plant that made military helmet bands and identification flares, and she danced and danced and danced at the USO to the music of Stan Kenton and Count Bassie. Herta married a Navy man—LeRoy C. Schmidt—on Halloween evening, 1948.
Herta and LeRoy moved “west” to Los Alamos, New Mexico in 1951, when LeRoy was hired as a tool and die maker at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory [now LANL]. At T1 and C1 Herta worked with computers. They fished and hunted, and, from the tip of Baja California to Alaska, traveled in their truck camper.
Herta and LeRoy both retired from the Lab in 1982. And Herta said, “From now on I’m camping at the Marriott and traveling in my Cadillac.” Their more refined travels included Las Vegas to see the “Rat Pack” and to gamble, which they were both quite good at. One European trip found them sailing out on the Queen Elizabeth II and flying back on the Concorde.
Herta and LeRoy had no children, but, as they gave advice about life and work, they mentored many young people, including their two nieces—Peggy and Pam—and their children.
In 1998, they celebrated their 50th anniversary with parties in both St. Louis and Los Alamos. Herta lost “my LeRoy” in August of 1999. But she kept very busy in Los Alamos—golf, bridge, garden club and volunteering. She was a “Pink Lady” member of the Hospital Auxiliary for 25 years. She is remembered for all the Teddy Bears she made for children who came into the emergency room. Even after LeRoy’s death Herta continued to attend Navy reunions of the USS Mellett.
Herta continued to travel. In 2008, she had just returned from a cruise through the Panama Canal when she fell and broke her pelvis, an accident which brought her to live at the Sombrillo Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Los Alamos.
To the end of her life at age 95, on June 17, 2017, Herta’s feisty attitude served her well. She was never afraid to speak her mind. She was strong. She was independent.
Herta Schmidt’s life will be celebrated in a memorial service later this summer. If you wish to honor Herta, please make a donation to your favorite charity in memory of Herta A. Schmidt.