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With the passing of Calvin Schmidt, Shelby County has lost a prominent citizen, a benefactor, but most of all, a friend.
Schmidt died Saturday after a monthlong illness. He was 82.
Many people, such as Bobby Hudson, president of the Shelby County Industrial and Development Foundation, remember Schmidt’s affiliation with the Coca-Cola Bottling Company, where he worked for 45 years, 35 years as president.
"He was a very nice guy, very dedicated to Coca-Cola," Hudson recalled.
Others remember the life-long Shelbyville resident for his other business accomplishments, such as co-founding Top Star Vending Company and establishing Stowaway, Shelby County's first mini-warehouse.
Schmidt also loved hunting and fishing, scouting and Rotary, and he was active in those areas as well.
Fellow Rotary Club member Don Armstrong was especially close to Schmidt and drank coffee with him at what they called the Coffee Club (which Schmidt co-founded) right up until he became too ill a month ago to go to Maggie’s Bistro on Tuesdays and Thursdays for his favorite beverage and quiet time with friends.
"He was a man of the greatest integrity," Armstrong said. "We talked about everything, but our favorite subject was sports – he was a huge UK fan."
Schmidt’s former next-door neighbor of 12 years, Marshall Long, recalled how much Schmidt loved to work around his house and in his garden.
"He and I would drink coffee together and talk about a lot of things," he said
Long said what he remembered best about his neighbor was spending time with him at Schmidt’s farm on Jeptha Knob, which he opened to the entire community to have picnics and other gatherings.
"He made Jeptha Knob into a very special place," he said.
Schmidt's pastor of 12 years at Burks Branch Baptist Church, Billy Betts, said there wasn't hardly any aspect of the community that he didn't have something to do with.
"He really cared about Shelby County," he said. "He was involved in the hospital, the school board, he was president of the theatre. He was the kind of individual that whatever he was involved in, he tried to leave it better than when he found it."
Betts described Schmidt as "a very caring person, one of the most humble people I've every met."
Betts said he was really struggling in writing the eulogy for Schmidt's funeral because "there is just so much to say about him."
"But I'll share some of my thoughts about him with you," he said.
Betts spoke of Schmidt's role in helping remodel the church's basement and his leadership in Burks Branch’s 40 Days of Purpose, a revival ministry. He told about Schmidt's role as a local historian and his love of his community.
But it was the little things about Schmidt he said he would miss most.
"He was one of those people who was fascinated by everything; he was just so full of wonder," he said. "He loved watching animals and speculating on how a meteor could have changed a landscape. He was just a really special person."
Armstrong said the Coffee Club won't be the same without his friend.
"I will miss him," he said, with a catch in his voice.
"We will have a special flower arrangement from the Coffee Club to mark his passing."