Rick Schmitt, of Salem, dances with Hollins University President Nancy Gray at a Nov. 12 fundraiser for the Salavation Army's Turning Point shelter. About 3 weeks after the event, he was diagnosed with advanced kidney cancer. He died Sunday. | Courtesy McMillan and Wife Photography and Flowers.
Rick Schmitt loved to dance, and to teach others how. And to play soccer, and coach it.
He was a dad to three, a grandad to five, and a deacon at Salem Baptist Church, where he led a men’s fellowship group.
To colleagues in the tower at Roanoke Regional Airport, he was the even-tempered guy you wanted at the helm in a hairy situation.
In short, he was one of those never-cocky people who behind the scenes quietly touched many people’s lives.
Schmitt died at his home on Sunday, from kidney cancer, just two months after it was diagnosed. He was 53, and had lived in the valley since 1995.
I got know him last fall when he and his adoring wife of 30 years, Bonnie Schmitt, spent weeks patiently teaching me how to do the foxtrot for a fundraiser.
Schmitt danced there, too — a perfect waltz with Hollins University President Nancy Gray in a crowded ballroom at the Patrick Henry. Barely three weeks later, he earned he had cancer, in an advanced stage.
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