On the evening of Sunday March 29th, 2020 a little piece of Broad Channel, NY died when Frederick R. Schmitt, 70, lifelong resident of Broad Channel, passed away at his home due to complications caused by COVID-19.
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Fred was born in 1949 to parents Frederick and Annie (Groves) Schmitt. Fred had 3 siblings; older sister Joanne, younger sister Maggie and brother John. In addition, before Frederick and Annie had children of their own, they were raising their two nephews Joe and Donald Dobbin. While they technically were his cousins, Fred thought of them both more like big brothers.
Fred loved Broad Channel and growing up could almost always be counted on being with friends Artie Ruddick, Rocky Guerra and Johnny Weber. Fred went to St. Virgilius Grammar School and Far Rockaway High School. He also was a star athlete, notably for the Broad Channel Shamrocks football team, where he wore #60, played offensive guard and was an MVP defensive lineman (and eventually was voted into the Broad Channel Athletic Club Hall of Fame).
After high school, Fred was eager to join the United States Army, and even enlisted prior to his 18th birthday. In the Army he was promoted to Sergeant and served admirably in Vietnam. After 1 year of combat infantry service he returned to South Carolina where he served as a drill instructor for new recruits.
After the Army, Fred returned back to Broad Channel, where he dated and then in 1971 married Dolores (Meehan) Schmitt. They remained married 48 years until the time of his passing. In 1974 they had their first son Michael. They had another son, Brian, in 1976, a daughter Barbara (deceased) in 1981, and daughter Christine in 1983.
Fred first worked as an elevator mechanic for Westinghouse (now Schindler Elevator Corporation), under the guidance of cousin Donald Dobbin. Fred enjoyed his time working for Westinghouse but after a few years he left and started working for the Fire Department of New York, which was his dream job. He initially worked in Brooklyn, but eventually was transferred to his “home away from home” Engine 285 / Ladder 142 in Ozone Park, Queens where he became a delegate. Some of his favorite times, and many of his favorite stories, happened when he was either at the firehouse or hanging out with the guys outside of the firehouse. He stayed with 285/142 until his last shift in Summer of 2001. However, his work was not done, as only a few months later he (along with many retired firefighters) went back and worked at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
Fred loved his time as a firefighter, and he became lifelong friends with so many of the guys he worked with through the years. Out of a fear of missing anyone there are too many to list, but they all know who they are.
Fred never thought he would like anything as much as being a firefighter, until he got to experience retirement. Fred thoroughly enjoyed being retired, but he always kept himself active and busy. He was an extremely handy man and did all of the work and renovations on his house and yard, including having to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy. Neighbors and friends in Broad Channel could always count on Fred to lend a helping hand, and he would volunteer to help at any benefit in town. Fred enjoyed spending time at American Legion Post 1404 with his fellow veterans, was excited to get a call from Wally Waldheim every Wednesday reminding him of the weekly card game, looked forward to getting into his friend George Barr’s Super Bowl Box every year, and would spend most of his afternoons (and evenings) at the North Channel Yacht Club with his fellow NCYC members. In recent years Fred looked forward to his daily walks with friends James and Nick Theis, Jeff James, and Al Verbukis (since deceased); he loved his annual trips to Saratoga and Gulfstream to bet the horses, and was (as he would say, unfortunately) a New York Jets fan.
Fred and Dolores were beyond ecstatic to become grandparents, when Michael and his wife Megan (Darcey) Schmitt had Erin in 2006 and Ryan in 2009. Both grandkids were the apple of Fred’s eye, and he was deeply involved in their lives. Even with their grandkids living over an hour away in Connecticut, that never stopped Fred and Dolores from showing up to any important milestones in the kid’s lives, from graduations to plays to sporting events or even just to babysit. His favorite annual event was accompanying his grandkids to their school’s Veteran’s Day Assembly each November. Nothing gave Fred more joy or pride than being a Grandfather to Erin and Ryan, and they will miss him immensely.
Fred was pre-deceased by his parents Frederick and Annie (Groves) Schmitt and daughter Barbara Schmitt. He is survived by his loving wife Dolores; children Michael (Megan), Brian and Christine, grandchildren Erin and Ryan; sisters Joanne Franzese (Michael) and Maggie (Robert) Falcone; brother, best friend and partner-in-crime John; and sister-in-law Karen Meehan. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews: Joanne’s daughter’s Joanne (Tony) Saraceni and Diana Franzese (Reggie); Maggie and Bob’s children Nancy (Joseph) Arguello, Stacey (Phil) Benoit, Shannon (Alan) McLeod, Jill (Brad) Palisi, Robert (Keira) Falcone, Marguerite (Rashad) Spriggs, and Mickey (Maria) Falcone; as well as John and Christy’s children Annie and Jack Schmitt.
Due to current restrictions, Fred’s family was unable to have a traditional wake and funeral. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Fred’s honor to the ‘Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation’ by calling (718) 987-1931.
A future date will be set for a memorial service, hopefully this summer.