Starting in a one-room school in rural Kansas, John Schmiedeler ’52, stood out nationwide in learning, athletic ability and exceptional service to others. Joining a respected and growing group of benefactors to Benedictine College, John and his wife, Rosemary, now change the lives of young basketball players who have a financial need and want to attend Benedictine College.
President Stephen Minnis told me, “It’s amazing to see a scholarship set up, and so humbling in light of the fact that John and Rosemary have committed to change the lives and futures of young people. Benedictine College needs more alumni and friends like them who will contribute towards training more young people here. Again and again, so many contributors make it clear that this is their personal goal.”
John Schmiedeler passed away three years ago, but he lives on both in spirit and in his legacy that is giving young people a start in life they might not have otherwise had. Friends have called him “a private person who led an eventful life.”
You may want to know more about a contributor to Benedictine as quiet and humble as John. One of six children, his education began in a one-room school in a tiny township called Pyke near Abilene, Kansas. What is now St. Thomas Aquinas High School was then St. Joseph’s, where John graduated in 1948. He then attended St. Benedict’s College, graduating in 1952 and eventually De Paul University in 1957. During college, he enlisted in the United States Army and learned to aim Howitzers, shoot basketballs, and hit baseballs for the Second Infantry Division.
John married Rosemary Kinsella following her graduation from Mount St. Scholastica College in 1952. They had seven daughters, Patricia, Suzanne, Dorothy, M. Teresa, Judith, Kathleen and Mary Jo.
He later served as athletic director for a school and a college before becoming the first layman in the United States to serve as a Superintendent of Schools. John Schmiedeler led the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph for many years. He went on to manage the clubhouse for the Kansas City Athletics, including their season during the 1960 All-Star Games, and coached the Israeli National Basketball team starting in 1970 as they trained for the Munich Olympics in 1972. John received the Frank Cramer Award from the NAIA in 1996 for his volunteer service.
What a life of tremendous humility and leadership! In his honor, the John L. Schmiedeler Scholarship is awarded to basketball players, and the reward may be renewed annually to scholar athletes who remain in good academic standing and abide by all NAIA rules. Our faith is built on such men and women as John—men and women who will have enduring influence on future generations of young people they may never meet in this life.