Established in 1875
Stephen George Schmidt, 71, of Champaign, died May 4, 2018 at Carle Hospital, Urbana, Illinois. The service remembering and celebrating his life will be Thursday May 10, 2018 at 2 pm at Renner-Wikoff Chapel, Urbana, with a gathering for friends and family following at 3 pm at Renner-Wikoff.
Steve was born August 24, 1946 in the Bronx, New York, son of Virginia Betka Schmidt and Albert Schmidt. He graduated from Northwestern University, Evanston with a degree in Chemistry. While he did not have a long career as a chemist, it was long enough for him to be enthusiastic about his daughter Alix’s decision to major in Chemical Engineering. At Northwestern, he met Trisha Crowley and they were married June 26, 1976 in Summit, New Jersey. Surviving him is his mother, Virginia , his wife Trisha Crowley, his daughter Alix Lian Schmidt and her wife Alex Henriquez, and his sister Nancy Scherer and brother-in-law Jim Scherer. Predeceasing him was daughter Jaime and son Stephen, both of whom died at birth.
Steve had 3 great passions- family and friends, his business The Piano People, and playing music.
The bands he played in included a high school Beatles tribute band (this was 1963, folks!), the Northwestern University Marching Band and numerous rock and roll bands. He was keyboardist in Ginger, a rock band which played in the Champaign area and beyond from 1973 until 1976, and he played Ginger reunion shows in 2003, 2006 and 2016. The Tons O’ Fun Band brought him back to playing rock and roll in his sixties and he had a ton of fun. He enjoyed synthesizers from the earliest Mini-Moog to the latest Korg. Steve would spend hours working out the perfect synthesizer sound for each song he was playing. Either with Trisha or by himself, he attended countless classic rock concerts within a 500 mile radius of home. To see his favorite bands, as late as 2016, he would stand for 10-12 hours because it was worth it to be in the best place, next to the stage. His favorite bands were, number 1 , the Beatles, then Night Ranger, which he saw live over 70 times. But he genuinely enjoyed other types of music, mainly jazz. He loved watching Alix play and especially enjoyed her years in the University of Illinois Marching Illini.
Steve was a quality craftsman in rebuilding pianos, and gathered around him craftsmen who were as obsessed about quality as he was. The Piano People rebuilt over 500 pianos, including 350 Steinways, in its 40 plus years lifetime and will continue in the skilled hands of its people.
Finally, family and friends. Steve made friends for life- from Ginger days in the 70s, piano technicians and rebuilders in the 80s, musicians from all times. His quirky sense of humor is impossible to describe, its unique flavor cherished by his friends and family. He was a wonderful son to Virginia, a husband who widened Trisha‘s interests in the world, and a father unconditionally devoted to his daughter Alix.
Memorial donations can be made to the Civil War Trust, 1140 Professional Court, Hagerstown, Md, 21740. Steve had visited many Civil War battlefields and strongly supported the mission of the Trust to preserve battlegrounds from development.