Many of you have already heard the sad news, because news travels fast among communicators. Agriculture lost a champion unexpectedly November 20th with the passing of BCFWA member, David Schmidt, 73.
A resident of Chilliwack, BC, he lived within 30 minutes of where he grew up, the oldest of seven children.
The Saturday before his death, his friends of 50+ years, Barb and Arnie, were with him at Chilliwack’s 150th anniversary singing a number of “oldies”, including belting out the chorus of Sweet Caroline.
He also enjoyed duplicate bridge. After mostly retiring from agriculture writing, he played bridge several days a week and was treasurer for his bridge group. He also did taxes for small businesses and individuals – talk about being a renaissance man!
Barb was responsible for Dave’s foray into ag writing. Arnie and he worked together at CHWK radio in the 70s when Dave was a copywriter and Barb got him the job at Country Life in BC in 1985.
When David semi-retired from the paper in 2017 (after 30 years of prolific writing) other Country Life writers were frequently asked “where’s David?” He also wrote for a number of regional and national agriculture publications. The Fraser Valley plowing events were a favourite of his and he turned out many a story about them for Country Life where he remained editor emeritus.
Prior to Cathy Glover owning Country Life in BC and serving as publisher, David worked with Peter Wilding. Peter shared the following about David:
“There are almost limitless stories to tell about Dave, but first and foremost was his professionalism. His very dry and wry sense of humor punctuated his writing. He had no time for journalists who toed the company line or didn’t do proper research. In his case, a lot of research was already done, and sorted away in his unbelievable memory. His retention served him well over the years, enabling him to write with authority under pressure at deadline.”
He was a champion of agriculture, dedicated to understanding situations and reporting the information correctly. He was given the CFWF Lifetime Achievement award in 2017, the Scotiabank Champion of Agriculture in 2018 and the 2000 BC Agriculturalist of the Year award from the BC institute of Agrologists.
But awards were never David’s motivation.
David mentored many in agriculture writing, sharing his passion for farming, particularly dairy. He was an integral part of the BC Farm Writers’ Association (reviving the chapter in the early 90s with Tony Greaves), the Canadian Farm Writers Federation (president from 1997 to 1999 and a regional director for many years) and a member of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists. It is rumoured, he was BCFWA president for 21 years and served as treasurer for nearly as long. Under his leadership the BCFWA scholarship was created, many conferences organized and tours planned. David also raised significant sponsorships given his trusted relationships.
One BCFWA member summed up David’s commitment to the industry: “No one has written more words about B.C. agriculture than David Schmidt.”
He made himself available to share insights of the past and opinions on going forward. Pens were always in his shirt pocket. He attended countless conferences (he would likely take a moment to look at his notes to give a number) and he drove to all but the one in New Zealand which he took medication for to tolerate the flight.
He jokingly called the IFAJ 2023 BC pre-tour he spearheaded and raised funds for as his “swan song.”
In lieu of flowers, David’s family appreciates donations to the MCC – https://www.mcccentre.ca/
To honour David, BCFWA is hosting a “wake” type Zoom.
BCFWA, CFWA and IFAJ members present and past are welcome. David would want us to enjoy each other’s company, recall his story-telling and remember his chuckle, usually at himself. If there are past members you know who may wish to participate, please share this email with them.
Paying Tribute to David Schmidt
Time: Dec 12, 2023 05:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Meeting ID: 812 1490 1988
Other ways to remember and share memories of David include his funeral on Friday, December 1 at 1 pm. at Sardis Community Church, 45625 South Sumas Road, Chilliwack, BC with a reception to follow.
And, your stories or memories of David are very welcome in the comments on the BCWFA FB page. BC Farm Writers’ Association.
For other tributes of David, this was published electronically by Country Life in BC:
And, this was posted by the funeral home: https://www.dignitymemorial.com/en-ca/obituaries/abbotsford-bc/david-schmidt-11549801