When Lisa Spitler's mother was sick last year, Nancy Schmidt took her to lunch and kept her company. And when Spitler's mother's health deteriorated further in a nursing home, Schmidt - an active 74-year-old woman who liked driving to see friends and family - visited regularly until death came in September.
Spitler clung to that legacy of kindness and generosity as she mourned the death of Schmidt, her great-aunt, who was killed in her Remington rowhouse early Monday.
Yesterday, Spitler was busy with her two daughters handing out fliers announcing an 8 p.m. vigil tonight for relatives and residents in front of Schmidt's house on West 31st Street near the Baltimore Museum of Art.
"They're in shock," Spitler said of friends and neighbors of the victim. "It's horrible."
Baltimore police did not release additional details about their investigation into her stabbing, which they have said may have been the act of a burglar who encountered Schmidt after breaking into her house. Police found evidence that a person broke in through the back door, and might have tampered with a large red shed in the backyard.
The attack occurred about 5:30 a.m. Neighbors said they heard Schmidt yelling for help over the sound of her house alarm. Police came and discovered Schmidt wounded in a room on the second floor of her home. Paramedics took her to nearby Union Memorial Hospital, where she died less than an hour later.
The killing of Schmidt, while her house burglar alarm blared, has shaken the Remington neighborhood, near the Johns Hopkins University.
While Spitler helped organize the vigil, other relatives were busy making funeral arrangements and tending to the now-empty home. Liz Schmidt, Nancy Schmidt's daughter-in-law, was at the house in the 200 block of W. 31st St. helping to prepare a funeral.
In a brief interview on the front porch of the home, Liz Schmidt choked back tears while reminiscing about her mother-in-law. She remembered her as being so active that she appeared to be more like a 50-year-old than someone who was in her mid-70s.
Schmidt was a thrifty woman who liked to clip coupons and drive to the grocery store in her Oldsmobile. She had retired 16 years ago from the Baltimore County Office of Budget and Finance.
She gave friends rides whenever they needed to go somewhere. Helping people get places was common for Schmidt: Her longtime companion, Robert McMahan, had been legally blind.
The pair had known each other since the 1960s, having met while bowling, but became a couple years later after both their marriages ended in divorce, according to a Sun obituary written for McMahan when he died of liver cancer four years ago.
They regularly traveled together to bowling tournaments, usually in Buicks. She and McMahan were members of Buick automobile clubs, Liz Schmidt said.
McMahan had been a collector of cars - mainly Buicks.
"She was very much into cars with Bob," Schmidt said.