The Schmid Family’s relationship with Chapman began in 1965 when Walter and Marge’s neighbors and friends, Jim and Loa Farley, convinced Walter to contribute to Chapman College, where Jim was vice president for fundraising. Walter became a regular donor and was asked to become a member of the Board of Trustees, which he served from 1966 to 1991.
Mr. Walter Schmid (1902-1995) emigrated with his parents and older sisters from Stuttgart, Germany, in 1911. They bought a forty-acre orange grove in Garden Grove, though the family had no farming experience. He became the sole family farmer at the age of 16 when his father died. In 1926, Walter married Margaret Strehle (a school teacher) and they raised 2 sons to be “farmhands.”
Walter was very innovative and loved to test new crops, equipment and techniques as they were introduced. He raised almost every crop that grew in Orange County, and later in the Coachella Valley.
Walter became an early civic leader, first with the Farm Bureau, then with the Water Districts and the Chamber of Commerce, where he represented Orange County’s interest in water conservation, freeway construction and sewage collection and treatment. He had a keen interest in politics, was appointed for 6 years on the State Water Pollution Control Board and continued to serve on many local boards. He also served as a member of the UCI Medical Board.
Don (1930-2009) and Dick (1933- ) knew no other life than farming until after they graduated from college. Graduates of their father’s high school, Anaheim Union High School, they were both awarded Bachelor Degrees in Civil Engineering from CalTech and both became Registered Civil Engineers.
Don had a keen interest and talent in building structures and operating equipment. With a partner, he founded ECCO Contractors and ECCO Equipment Rental Company with 6 equipment yards in the Western United States. The company is now operated by his son, David. He married Martha Anderson (a school teacher) and they raised 4 children and had 11 grandchildren. Don was on the local board of the Boy Scouts of America.
Dick joined Bob Williamson in 1962 to form Williamson and Schmid, a civil engineering consulting firm, specializing in industrial and residential land development. He presently is partner in Sundstrom and Schmid, providing expert witness services. He manages the remaining family farming operation in the Coachella Valley. He became a Chapman Trustee in 1990. His other primary charitable passion has been the Salvation Army, where he has been on the Board for 45 years. Dick married Patricia Stanley (a school teacher) in 1962, and they have raised 2 daughters and have 4 grandchildren.
Margaret and Walter founded WALTMAR Foundation and immediately started supporting many worthy causes, including the UCI Cancer Center, local junior college scholarships, Boy Scouts, the Salvation Army, and of course, Chapman University with the Waltmar Theatre.
Throughout the last forty years, the Schmid family has supported Chapman University continuously and generously, both as individuals and through the foundation. In addition to Schmid College of Science and Technology, the family has established the Walter Schmid Center for International Business at the Argyros School of Business and Economics. Schmid Gate, which serves as the University’s formal entrance and welcomes the community to Chapman’s campus, is also named in their honor.