Betty Jean Schmitt, 97, of Springfield, formerly of Grove City, passed away Thursday, January 24, 2019 after a brief illness. The daughter of Albert Summerfield Hames and Alice Evelyn Walley of Manitoba, Canada, Betty was born in the small prairie town of Glenboro on August 20, 1921. In August 1927, at the age of 6, she traveled with her parents to Prince Rupert and Vancouver, British Columbia, during which trip the group survived the foundering of the Steamship Prince Rupert on Ripple Rock in Seymour Narrows. Betty graduated from high school in Glenboro, then attended United College (University of Manitoba) in Winnipeg. She was blessed with a beautiful singing voice and performed in college productions of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Mikado and H.M.S. Pinafore. After receiving her B.A. in Mathematics at age 19, she went on to work as a bond analyst for Great West Life Insurance in Winnipeg, remaining there throughout World War II. At the end of the war, knowing her job would go to a returning G.I., she considered other careers. She decided to pursue the study of art ceramics at The Ohio State University, which she attended in the fall of 1945. While studying there, she also worked as a secretary for Battelle Memorial Institute, then housed in a single building on King Avenue. In February 1946 she met Columbus native Vernon Richard Schmitt at the Maennerchor club on South High Street. Vernon, an engineer, later fondly related that what really impressed him about Betty was her knowledge of calculus! They were soon engaged, and married on July 6, 1946. For the next seven decades, Betty devoted herself to family, church, and community activities. She and Vernon raised three daughters in the Alkire Road house that Vernon had built during the Depression. Brought up in a Methodist family, Betty joined her husband’s church, St. John’s Evangelical Protestant Church on East Mound St in Columbus. She was an active member there for over fifty years, participating in the Sunday school, Chancel Choir, Women’s Guild, and especially Senior Christian Fellowship, which she directed for many years. While her children were at home, she attended PTA and was active in the Girl Scouts. In addition to her volunteer work, she taught for several years as a substitute high school teacher in Southwestern City Schools. After her husband retired in 1974, Betty enjoyed travel with him to destinations near and far, by car, plane, and boat. Especially memorable were trips to Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, Europe, and China, including several river cruises. Time spent with friends and relatives on these trips were fond highlights for Betty and Vernon. At home they read many books together, and played cards nightly, especially cribbage. After their grandchildren were born, they visited them as often as possible. Their grandchildren spent many happy hours at Betty and Vernon’s home, and Betty took them to play and explore at area parks, especially Battelle Darby. In 1996, Betty and Vernon celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, surrounded by family and friends. Betty and Vernon moved to Springfield Masonic Community in 2003. After Vernon’s passing, Betty became an active member of Covenant Presbyterian Church. She volunteered there and at SMC, where she worked for many years in the gift shop. She was known to the residents of SMC for her cheerful manner and for her red Smart Car, which she drove to the age of 96. Well into her nineties, she would sometimes decline a social engagement because she “had to work!”
Betty was a person of great integrity, continually striving to follow the Christian principles of humility and empathy. She was selfless and generous with her time and talents, assisting her immediate family and friends, as well as the community at large. While personally frugal, she gave generously to charitable and humanitarian causes, caring most deeply about causes that protected the environment, promoted tolerance, and furthered human equality. She held a lifelong concern for women’s issues, and actively supported women in politics. Betty was talented in art and music, and was fascinated by the natural world. Though born and raised on the plains of Canada, she studied the plants and animals of her adoptive state of Ohio, and passed this knowledge on to her children and grandchildren. She loved to play Scrabble and played almost every week with her daughters. Betty was an avid sports fan, especially of the Cincinnati Reds and Ohio State football and basketball. She was kind and good-natured with people of all backgrounds and ages, and had a wry sense of humor most noted in her later years. Betty was preceded in death by husband Vernon Richard Schmitt and older sisters Marie Hames Douglas and Ellen Hames Shand. She is survived by daughters Helen (Richard) Mitchell of Boulder, Colorado, Janet (John) Dobson and Alice (Gary) Schmautz of Springfield, Ohio, and grandchildren William and Phillip Mitchell of Denver, Evan Dobson of Seattle, Colin (Kaitlin) Dobson of Springfield, Emma (Joseph) Dominguez of Palm Springs, California, Hanna Schmautz of Springfield, and Abby Schmautz of Denver. A memorial service will be held Friday, Feb 1 at 10:30 a.m. in the Club House at Springfield Masonic Community. A luncheon and celebration of life will follow at noon in the Community Center. Friends are invited to attend either or both. Memorial contributions may be made to The Nature Conservancy or Habitat for Humanity International. Richards, Raff & Dunbar Memorial Home has been entrusted with the final arrangements. The family wishes to express our heartfelt thanks to the medical community, especially Drs. Jerald Dudney, Daljeet Singh and J. Michael Smith for helping Betty live a long, productive and fulfilling life. You may express condolences to the family at richardsraffanddunbar.com.