Breathed life into Storm Lake
David's every gasp was a struggle, and maybe that's why he made the most out of every breath of life he was given.
Many of our readers knew David Schmidt as the Pilot-Tribune's circulation director, the nice guy who was responsible if your paper missed the front steps. We knew him as a great friend.
David passed away in the early morning hours Friday, and as much as we will miss him, the sadness is tempered by the fact that he lived life for all it was worth, and packed in more friendships than a dozen people could hope to compile even if given way more years to work at it.
Most of us, if faced by the kind of debilitating respiratory illness that David lived with for years, would be confined to a bed. He wasn't the type to complain, though, and never seemed bitter. He wanted to work, to enjoy life. Just a few weeks ago, he was playing volleyball with my kids at the Pilot's staff picnic.
If his health wasn't strong, his spirit more than made up for it. It was impossible to be down when David was in the room.
I miss the way he managed to find something good to say about anyone and everyone - he was just one of those rare people who can see the best in anyone.
I miss the way he could tell some little joke in a big way, and make you smile on even the worst day. "Did you hear the one about the priest, the rabbi and the newspaper editor...?"
And I even miss the grief he would give me every Monday after his beloved Hawkeyes won one. I have to admit that my favorite team has always been whoever plays Iowa this week, but David's unbendable enthusiasm for the black and gold was even starting to get to me.
I miss him, and I'm not alone. I learned a long time ago not to walk to lunch with David if you were in a hurry. He knew everyone in town, and always had time for a good word with them all. I often noted that a rich and influential businessman in town would get the exact same treatment as a poor little Latino immigrant boy who carries shoppers for a few pennies apiece (well, that isn't exactly true, the kid probably meant a little more to David).
I think you would be hard-pressed to find a human being who ever met David who didn't like him, and few that had encountered him more than once who didn't consider him as a friend.
It's been hard to see our grand friend struggle for every breath these last few months. Imagine, a man who has such pain singing in the church choir. The pain is finally gone, but the wonderful memories will live on.
David died with dignity, but more importantly, he lived with passion, love, caring and humor. He's been a breath of life to us and to his community.