Cover photo for William "Bill" Dean Schmidt, Phd's Obituary
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1933 William 2021

William "Bill" Dean Schmidt, Phd

December 12, 1933 — May 15, 2021

Ellensburg, Washington

William Dean Schmidt passed away on May 15, 2021.

He was born on December 12, 1933 in Tecumseh, Nebraska.  His parents were Hugo J. and Hilda Schmidt, both descendants of families from Germany.  He was educated in Johnson, Nebraska and graduated from Johnson High School where he was a standout basketball player.  His classmate, Melva Grube, and he graduated in a class of ten.  They later were married.  He attended Doane College in Crete, Nebraska, but received his B.S. in history from the University of Nebraska in 1956.  He received a Master of Arts in Audiovisual Education from San Diego State University in 1963.  He completed his education in 1972 when he received a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Media from the Ohio State University.

He was married to Melva Mae Grube in Johnson, NE in 1955.  They lived in Blue Hill, Lincoln, and Nebraska City, Nebraska; San Diego, CA; Manhattan, Kansas; Lampertheim, Germany; Corvallis, OR; Columbus, OH; and finally, Ellensburg, WA.  They had three children, Mark, Marcia, and Andrew.  He served in the U.S. army from 1957 to 1959 with most of his time in Germany.  One of Bill’s college friends was studying to become a M.D.  Noting that Bill was dating a nurse, his friend told him that marrying a nurse is a wise decision.  Bill followed that advice and never regretted it.  Melva kept the family healthy and was able to get a job wherever they lived.

He taught in high schools in Blue Hill and Nebraska City, Nebraska and National City, California.  He then moved on to the college level, and, other than a summer stint at Oregon State University, spent his entire college career at Central Washington University (1963 to 1999).  He served as Faculty Marshal at the 1999 graduation ceremony when he retired as Professor Emeritus.   His specialty was Educational Media/Technology and he taught many classes in that field.  He was also an administrator in the Instructional Media Center.  Lastly, he was a media producer, producing many films, videos, and other media formats. Most of these productions were for CWU, but he also produced numerous films and videos for U.S. and Washington State companies and agencies.  He produced two 16mm films and numerous other media formats that were distributed for sale by national companies.  He also wrote several books and many journal articles in the field of educational media/technology. He was also active in national and state media associations serving as president of the Washington group and regional coordinator for a national media association (AECT).  For his efforts he received numerous awards.  He also directed a Washington State Film and Video Festival and a National Media Festival.  He headed each of these organizations for about 5 years.  These festivals were formed to honor and award high school and college students for best media productions and he was very proud of being involved in these activities. Bill was a great organizer and he set up many professional conferences as well as reunions of former college and high school groups and friends.  He was honored to be selected as a member of Phi Alpha Theta, a history fraternity.  He was also a long-time member of Phi Delta Kappa, a national professional education organization and served as the local chapter’s president.

As a community involvement, he played a major role in the building of the Clymer Museum of Art in Ellensburg, Washington.  John Clymer was a cover illustrator for the Saturday Evening Post and a nationally acclaimed painter of U.S. western historical scenes and events.  He served as a founding board member, grant writer, exhibit planner, and president for the museum. He was a long-time member of the Elks, a member of Kiwanis for a number of years, member of Clymer Museum group, and a life-long member of the Lutheran church.  He was a life member of the Nebraska Alumni Association and selected as a member of Phi Alpha Theta, a national history fraternity based on exemplary scholarship.

Bill was most proud of his last five years at CWU.  First, he co-authored a book entitled “Managing Media Services”.  Many universities that trained future instructional media/technology leaders adopted this book.  Second, he developed and had approved a program to train and endorse future public school library media specialists.   Finally, he was chosen to be the third and final faculty chair of the committee planning a new teacher education building at CWU to replace the old Black Hall.  In addition to chairing the committee, which made the final design decisions on the building, he personally wrote specifications and guided the purchase of over 3 million dollars worth of equipment for the building.   Upon equipment arrival, he supervised the assembly and installation of all of that equipment.  He was proud that he was able to make a major contribution to this beautiful and functional state-of-the-art building.  At the completion of the building, the main architect told Bill “we could not have done this without you.”  For the last few years before retirement in 1999, he was Director of the Educational Technology Center in the new building.  He was also a Professor of Instructional Media.

Outside of their careers, Bill and Melva enjoyed spending many years buying and selling antiques.  Initial sales were at an annual sale for former customers.  Things that did not sell were placed in a booth at the Thorp Fruit and Antique Mall on I-90 near Ellensburg.  Later he moved to selling items on eBay.   Bill started a Christmas tradition many years ago of carefully selecting about a dozen antiques and collectibles and having his three children draw straws to pick out items of their choice.  Bill and Melva also had a ranch northeast of Ellensburg and raised timothy hay and Angus cattle.  In January of 2016, Bill and Melva along with son Andy and his wife Michell were named Cattle Family of the Year for Kittitas County.  Bill subdivided some of their land and built their retirement dream home on one of the lots.  He named the five plats he subdivided after the numerous colleges’ athletic nicknames at which he had attended or worked (Husker, Buckeye, Aztec, Tiger, Wildcat, and Eagle.)  Bill and Melva also loved to travel in their RV’s and shoot film for media productions, search for antiques, golf, and visit friends along the way.  They worked hard and played equally hard.  They came a long way from that class of ten in a small Nebraska town.

Bill was proud of his attaining the degree of Ph.D. when his parents didn’t even make it beyond grade school, and he was the first of his known relatives to go on to college.  For that accomplishment, he cited two of his teachers as having a profound influence on him.  Arthur Lindsey was his high school history teacher and coach who encouraged him to go on to college.  His history teacher at Doane College in Nebraska (Dr. Kenneth Rossman) prodded him to excel academically and taught him well on doing research and writing.  Additionally, he attributes his wife Melva for taking nursing jobs in Nebraska, California, and Ohio to make it possible for him to climb up the educational ladder.

Bill was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Elizabeth Ann Schmidt, brothers Alvin Hugo Schmidt (and wife Ruby) and Robert Eugene Schmidt (and wife Norma), both brothers were from the San Diego area. Also, brothers-in-law Alvin Petersen, Syracuse, NE and Gene Fortune, Lincoln, NE.  Left to mourn him is his wife Melva, and children: Mark Schmidt and wife Rhonda, Marcia Pace and husband William Pace, and Andrew Schmidt and wife Michell, all of Ellensburg, WA.; also, sisters-in-law Arlene Fortune, Lincoln, NE and Phyllis Bates and husband Steve of LeMars, IA.  He leaves behind eight grandchildren and seven great grandchildren, all of which he was very proud. He also left behind many dearly loved nieces and nephews. Memorials may be given to the William and Melva Schmidt Memorial Scholarship at Central Washington University.

Johnston & Williams Funeral Home and Crematory of Ellensburg has been entrusted with caring for Bill’s family.  Online condolences may be left at

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