CHEEKY CHARACTER: 97-year-old Val Schmidt is one who will not soon be forgotten by his family and the community.
CHEEKY CHARACTER: 97-year-old Val Schmidt is one who will not soon be forgotten by his family and the community.

Compassionate man leaves legacy behind

KNOWN to his friends and family as a cheeky bugger who loved his beer, 97-year-old Val Schmidt passed away on October 20 leaving behind a fulfilled life.

Mr Schmidt leaves behind his second wife Clista Matschoss (nee Ellem), daughter Vanessa and stepdaughter Raechelle Ghea.

Mr Schmidt’s only biological daughter, Vanessa, was the apple of his eye however after his marriage to Clista, Mr Schmidt took care of Raechelle as one of his own.

Mrs Ghea said it was pure disbelief when her father passed away at the Biloela Hospital after he was admitted there for over a week beforehand.

“I can’t believe you’re gone and thinking back now you were meant to live forever,” Mrs Ghea said.

“We had been in the hospital for that long that we were planning for the next day but knowing in our mind there wouldn’t be a next day.”

LOVE AND MEMORIES: Val Schmidt at the wedding of his daughter Vanessa Schmidt in 2010.
LOVE AND MEMORIES: Val Schmidt at the wedding of his daughter Vanessa Schmidt in 2010.

Raechelle and Vanessa grew up as sisters and friends with a bond stronger than blood under tragic circumstances as Raechelle lost her biological father at four and Vanessa’s mother and Mr Schmidt’s first wife, Merta, passed away after giving birth to Vanessa.

“He only opened up a little once to me about Merta, but often he wouldn't talk about those things being from the generation,” Mrs Ghea said.

“We had a few drinks one time and I said you must’ve really loved your first wife.

“He looked at me, blinked, started to tear up and looked down.

“You could tell from the manner of him that he didn’t want to talk about it, he appreciated the acknowledgment and he still wasn’t over her even though he already re-married.”

Mr Schmidt served in WWII, assigned to a Victorian regiment in Darwin as a wireless operator and over his service he was awarded an Australian Service Medal, War Medal and Returned from Active Service Badge.

Mr Schmidt was also a beloved worker and member at the Callide mine from the 1970s right through to the end.

Mr Schmidt took many apprentices under his wing, like Chris Harper, who at the funeral service said Mr Schmidt left behind a lasting legacy at the mine.

“There was always plenty of good memories and stories to be told of Val and all the other old blokes from the early days onwards,” Mr Harper said.

“Michael Phelan can recall Val being the first tradesman he worked with when he commenced his apprenticeship at the igloo workshop with Val’s favourite tool being a bottle of CRC commonly referred to as Val’s Pal which it is still called nearly 50 years later.”

Mrs Ghea said her father had a great impact on the community.

He was idolised by the people in the town and those he came across,” Mrs Ghea said.

“He shared a little bit of himself differently to each different person in his life and everyone has a funny story to share.

“Dad always said don’t let small things get in the way, just move on and never look back.”