William J. Schmidt
(Baltimore Sun)

William J. Schmidt, a former department store buyer who later became director of administration for the Housing Authority of Baltimore City, died Monday at his Bel Air home of complications from Parkinson's disease.

He was 79.


The son of a Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. actuary and a homemaker, William Joseph Schmidt was born in Baltimore and raised on Aisquith Street.

He was a 1951 graduate of Mount St. Joseph High School in Irvington and earned a bachelor's degree in 1955 in business administration from what is now Loyola University Maryland.

Mr. Schmidt enlisted in the Army in 1955 and served with an armored reconnaissance unit at Fort Knox, Ky. He was discharged in 1957 with the rank of captain.

After leaving the service, he worked as a garden and toy buyer for Montgomery Ward, and later in the same capacity for Stewart's department store.

"He brought home a lot of great toy samples from shows," said a son, William J. Schmidt III of Parkton.

After his 1961 marriage to Germaine L. Schortt, the couple settled into a home on Hamilton Avenue in Hamilton, where they raised their five children.

After taking a civil service examination in 1968, Mr. Schmidt went to work as a budget analyst for Baltimore City.

"When Dad was working all kinds of hours during budget season, I can remember my mother loading all five of us in the van at 8:30 p.m. to run downtown and pick him up from City Hall every weeknight," his son said.

"He was very sharp when it came to the budget. He wasn't just a budget analyst, he was the principal budget analyst," said Charles L. "Chuck" LaHatte, who retired in 1995 from the city budget department.

"He was very dedicated to the work, and of course this was the era before computers. We'd be there until 10 or 11 at night, when we were facing a budget deadline, and we had to make that deadline," said Mr. LaHatte of Bowleys Quarters.

"He got along well with everyone and especially those in the various agencies with which we had to work," he said, adding that Charles L. Benton Jr., the longtime city budget director, "was very fond of William. I remember him calling for [Mr. Schmidt] on the P.A. system to ask him about something and bypassing the head of the department."

In the late 1980s, he joined the city housing authority, then under the direction of Marion W. Pines, as director of administration. He also wrote grants.

"He was an extremely conscientious and caring guy. He had an integrity that could never be questioned," said Ms. Pines, who for the last 25 years has been senior fellow and director of the Sar Levitan Center, the Johns Hopkins University's Institute for Policy Studies.

"William was an honorable and caring man. It was a pleasure to work with him," she said.


During his City Hall career, Mr. Schmidt worked under Mayors Thomas J. D'Alesandro III, William Donald Schaefer, Clarence H. Du Burns and Kurt L. Schmoke.

"He quietly worked with politicians and high-level bureaucrats, and was in that group of civil servants that just got things done behind the scenes," his son said.

After retiring in 1995, Mr. Schmidt moved to Ocean Pines, where he lived until three years ago, when he moved to a home in Bel Air because of failing health.

While living in Hamilton, he was an active communicant of St. Dominic Roman Catholic Church, where he served as a member of the parish council and budget committee. He had also been a Cub Scout leader.

A pigeon fancier since the age of 16, Mr. Schmidt raised and showed several national champions. He had also been the longtime secretary of the Greater Baltimore Pigeon Fanciers Association and the Eastern Tumbler Club.

He also liked working in stained glass, making lamps and small windows, and woodworking. He enjoyed carving decoys and drawing and painting animals in watercolors and oils.

A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Mark Roman Catholic Church, 2407 Laurel Brook Road, Fallston.

In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Schmidt is survived by three other sons, Steven Schmidt of Pooler, Ga., David Schmidt of Plano, Texas, and Robert Schmidt of Alpharetta, Ga.; a daughter, Jean LaHatte of Bel Air; two brothers, Francis Schmidt of Abingdon and James Schmidt of Kingsville; and 13 grandchildren.