Lawrence ‘Larry’ Joseph Schmitz 1944 - 2009 Lawrence
If heaven is storytellers sitting around a campfire, Larry will be the one telling the “Wide Mouth Frog” story, building up the fire until the sky is filled with flames and making sure everyone feels welcome.Larry passed away Feb. 12. Services will be held on Valentine’s Day, Saturday, Feb. 14, at 10:30 a.m., at St. John the Evangelist Church in Lawrence. A reception will follow in the church basement.He was born Oct. 30, 1944, son of Leo Sr. and LaBella (Schnur) Schmitz in Marytown, Wis. He loved growing up on a farm in Wisconsin and remained a true Green Bay Packer fan throughout his life.His love of the outdoors was evident to all who knew him, and especially to anyone who ventured into his backyard with its many trees, flowers, grapevines and raised gardens. Although Larry loved to travel, his garden was his favorite place in the world. He said the best part of retirement was completing his certification as a Master Gardener and calling friends to meet for coffee.Larry was one of the world’s longest surviving recipients of a lung transplant. He received his “second wind” May 16, 1993. He enjoyed every breath he took and encouraged others to recycle themselves as organ donors.He married Ann M. Brill on Dec. 31, 1993. Ann is dean of the KU School of Journalism and Mass Communications where Larry was known as “Mr. Dean.”One of his great joys in life was his faith. Larry spent 30 years as a Franciscan Capuchin brother of the Detroit Province. In moving to Lawrence in 2000, he was thrilled to learn that Capuchin priests staffed St. John the Evangelist parish. As a Capuchin, Larry worked on Native American reservations in Montana as a drug and alcohol counselor, where he was adopted as a member of the Northern Cheyenne family known as American Horse. He also worked with various agencies in Missouri as part of the national flood relief efforts in the early and mid-1990s. He later worked as a drug and alcohol counselor for Phoenix Programs in Columbia, Mo. In Lawrence, he was employed by Heartland Regional Alcohol and Drug Addiction Counseling services.Larry earned a degree in human services from Montana State University in Billings, and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He loved KU athletics except when the Tigers were playing the Jayhawks, and he had the opportunity to annoy everyone around him with his enthusiastic support of Mizzou.He is survived by his wife; three brothers: Leo Schmitz Jr. (Maria), Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Joe Schmitz (Barbara), New Holstein, Wis.; and David Schmitz (Helen), Howards Grove, Wis.; one sister, Mary Ann Schneider (Ronald), Phoenix; and by numerous nieces and nephews who dearly loved “Uncle Larry.” He also is survived by his mother-in-law, Mildred Brill of Marathon, Wis. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother, LeRoy Schmitz. His faithful companion, Britz the Singing Shih Tzu, died in January.Memorials may be made in his name to the KU Endowment for the Schmitz Service Journalism Award and sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary.Online condolences may be sent to www.warrenmcelwain.com, subject: Schmitz.