Lawrence passed away peacefully after a short battle with cancer at English Oaks Rehab Center in Modesto. He is survived by his son Douglas Schmitz, daughter Stacey Roberts, sister, Nelda Schmitz, nephews Gerald Brown and Larry Brown, three grand daughters and three great grandchildren. Larry was also preceded in death by his parents Lawrence and Gertrude Schmitz, his sister, Edna Eileen (Schmitz) Roney and half-brother Lewis Schmitz.
Larry was born and raised in Clovis, CA, the son of Lawrence August and Gertrude Isabelle Schmitz. He graduated from Clovis High School in 1952 and went on to study at Fresno City College and graduated from Fresno State University. Larry played High School and College baseball as a pitcher and eventually played for the Fresno Cardinals Semi Professional Baseball Team.
In December 1955, Larry married Shirley McNay in Clovis and had two children, Douglas and Stacey. A few years later, they moved to Santa Cruz, CA. In 1967, Larry was teaching 8th grade science at Capitola Intermediate School when he received a National Science Foundation Grant to further his science studies at Michigan State University and University of Notre Dame. Several years later, the family moved back to California and Larry worked for Madera County School District. His wife Shirley, also an educator, passed away in 1977 after a long illness.
Larry moved to North Fork, CA and married Margery Mellott Ruby. In 1981, they opened Red Barn Antiques where Larry also served as an auctioneer after graduating from Reisch College of Auctioneering in Iowa. Larry was also an accomplished photographer and owned and operated his photo studio, “The Third Eye.” The two purchased a second home in Denair, CA in 1983. Larry returned to teaching at Denair High School in the 90’s and thoroughly enjoyed his students and was voted “favorite teacher of the year.” In, 1995 his wife Margery suffered a severe stroke. Larry lovingly devoted himself to Margery’s care and comfort until she passed away in 2011.
Larry was a lover of nature and avid bird watcher. He enjoyed traveling across country, with bird guides and binoculars in his truck, hoping to identify and experience the beauty of a bird he’d not yet seen. He was a member and contributed generously to the Audubon Society, The Yosemite Conservancy, The National Wildlife Federation, The Sierra Club and St. Labre Indian Reservation.
Lawrence was a veteran of the United States Army who served during the Korean War and a member of The American Legion. Up until his death, he was an active member of The Lions Club of Denair and The Sunshine Group.
Services will be held at The United Methodist Church of Turlock where Larry enjoyed serving as an usher, Saturday November 28th at 11am with a reception to follow. 1660 Arbor Way Turlock, CA 95380.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Larry’s memory to The National Audubon Society.