Over the next year, we're celebrating the Countdown to our 100th Anniversary by sharing our stories from our past. The history of our founder, Titus B. Schmid, and all those that impacted him, play a vital role in the creation of Crescent Electric Supply Company. Join us as we take a stroll down memory lane in preparation for our Centennial celebration in April, 2019!
Story 11: Schmid Family-Who Are We?
Who are we? We are educators, medical professionals, business people, bankers, lawyers, volunteers, homemakers, Emmy winners (ok, we only have one Emmy winner but she has been nominated for an Emmy multiple times!), basically our family is composed of people who have chosen many different careers. We had four Schmids who worked (or still work) at Crescent from the third generation: Dick, Jack, Ti and Mike Schmid all built their careers at Crescent. We have one fourth generation family member working at Crescent in our Denver branch, Nick Rhomberg.
Like many families, we were taught from a very early age the importance of putting family and faith first in our lives. We had Schmid family reunions every summer and I have fond memories of 4th of July parties at my aunts and uncle’s homes in Dubuque. Everyone in my generation, the third generation, had the opportunity to spend time with our Grandpa and Grandma Schmid while we were growing up. Grandpa Titus lived to age 90 and he spent plenty of time with each of us over the years, teaching us the importance of hard work, family and faith.
As our family grew and we became adults, we found it harder and harder to meet every year, but we kept in touch as often as we could. We now have a Schmid family reunion every three years that we all pitch in and plan. We wanted our fourth generation, and now our fifth, to experience the same strong sense of family that we benefitted from when we were growing up. It isn’t always easy to get everyone together but we all make it a priority…and are always glad we did!
It is fitting that my large, extended family still owns Crescent Electric Supply Company together one hundred years after Titus opened the doors to the first branch on Iowa Street in Dubuque. I imagine many of you have heard horror stories of family businesses that eventually tore families apart. Or you may have seen news stories about one family member suing another family member. We never want to be the “stars” of any of these terrible stories. We don’t want to dishonor our legacy. We have worked hard to be responsible stewards of the family and Crescent Electric, indeed we always knew this was expected of us.
While we don’t always agree we follow some family “rules” that helps us to have every voice heard and ultimately make decisions everyone can live with. We do this through a governance process we call the Schmid Family Council. Sometimes the decisions taken by the Family Council go the way I want them to do, sometimes they don’t. The important point is we respect each other’s opinions, make important decisions and move on as family members committed to each other and the extended Crescent family.
Our Schmid Family Vision, Mission and Common Values
The council is established to provide organization for our family, in service of our Schmid family vision and mission.
To build a strong and enduring Schmid family organization that promotes the family’s core values based on a foundation of:
• regular family gatherings
• education and development
• a sense of tradition in both family and business
• a commitment to giving back
Our Common Values
The council serves to uphold and promote the guiding values which we have received over generations, and which have kept our family strong and our business successful.
Respect for our family heritage, including the sacrifice and hard work that provides greater opportunity for future generations.
Commitment to seek our collective good, making it more important than seeking personal advantage.
A sense of stewardship of our common assets, preserving and growing them for
Active and committed family ownership that adds value to our enterprises.
Ethical business culture that benefits our customers, employees and communities.
Strong Work Ethic
It was clear from the interviews and the collective thoughts of the family council that the values instilled in us from our parents and grandparents are values we still hold true today: a strong work ethic, family values and faith are the pillars that hold our family together.
Titus and Doden instilled in each of their children a strong work ethic. This video captures Bill, John and Janet talking about their childhood chores. Later in the video are old clips of the boys mowing the lawn, washing the car and Titus giving the car a thorough inspection.
When Tom was living in Bridgeport right after college, he sent this comic strip to his Dad, Titus. We can only assume that Titus appreciated his humor!
FAITH and FAMILY
Titus and Doden raised their children in the Catholic faith and their faith was very important to them. As was seen in an earlier vignette, the children and grandchildren were taught to give back to their community and live their faith. In this video Janet, Mary and Bill speak of the importance of faith and the strong sense of family they were taught growing up.
Like all parents, Titus and Doden loved their children and grandchildren and cherished the time they had with them. In this letter to his granddaughter, Titus mentions how excited he is to have his grandchildren come to visit.
…Mom and I love you all so very much and it means so much to us when any of you come and stay with us. John, Bette and their five wonderful kiddies will be here this coming Friday and while we will be a bit crowded with 10 of us in the house, it will all be great fun.
As he got older, Titus became more vocal about his appreciation for his children.
…From my standpoint passing Crescent to all of you is not only the practical action for me to take, but with it goes all the love in the world from mom and me to you all. You all have conducted yourselves in such a graced way in every way and when it comes time for mom and me to leave, I feel sure that every one of you will carry on in the future as you have in the past.
We have a great family and let us always keep it so…Mom and Dad
Titus often expressed his wishes for his children, but this holiday letter is particularly poignant as it was written shortly after his first-born son Tom had died from cancer at the age of 56.
…Mom and I send to you all our great love...By now you all must realize what really substantial citizens you all are, and I want to issue a word of caution to each of you to use the best of judgment in your dealings in the future with one another. Never forget that in unity, which I pray will never be anything but a fact, is a great strength, for the future of our great Company is really before you all. And so, for another year live in health and happiness and with great respect for each other is the wish of your Mom and your Dad…
One of the letters Grandpa Titus sent to my siblings and me was “chatty,” but expressed his personal mantra of hard work. He reminded us to “study hard” and then we can enjoy our vacation time.
May 14, 1964
Dear Doug, Drew, Dave, Ti, Mary, Stephen;
Now you know it was so nice of all of you youngsters to send Grandma and Grandpa such nice greeting and we sure appreciate your thinking of us…
…Well my dears, all have fun and study hard. During vacation you all have loads of fun.
Love to you all from Grandpa
Over the years while Crescent has grown so has the Schmid family. There are now 123 Schmid family members, including six (soon to be seven) fifth generation descendants of Titus and Doden, all committed to honoring Titus and Doden’s family legacy.
The rest of this vignette gives a brief pictorial history of the Schmid family through the generations.
The Schmid Family
Titus B. Schmid (founder of Crescent Electric Supply Company) married Josephine Anna Schroeder (nickname Doden) on May 8, 1917 in Dubuque, Iowa.
One year later, in July of 1918, they welcomed their first-born child, a son Tom. Less than a year later, on April 15, 1919, Titus opened the doors to his first branch of Crescent Electric Supply Company. The Company and the Schmid family have continued to grow ever since!
Tom Schmid and his mom, Doden, on Armistice Day.
This is a photo of Titus and Doden. (Circa 1919)
Titus and Doden went on to have seven children:
Tom - July 1918
Mary - March 1920
John - February 1922
Jim - July 1923
Bill - March 1925
Jeanne - December 1927
Janet - March 1931
The family grew up in Dubuque, Iowa and lived most of that time on Hill Street. This is a photo taken in the backyard on Hill Street in 1942.
Titus and Doden Schmid with their seven children. (Circa 1950)
In 1952, Tom Schmid and his wife Libby welcomed the first of 36 grandchildren for Titus and Doden. By late summer of 1958, there were already more children than adults at the family reunion!
On November 25, 1961, Jim Schmid married Mary Schwind. Jim was the last of Titus and Doden’s children to get married. This photo shows all the Schmid children with their spouses at Jim and Mary’s wedding.
The Second and Third Generations
Mary (Schmid) Christiansen
Jeanne (Schmid) Piekenbrock
Janet (Schmid) Rhomberg
The Fifth Generation
The family has continued to grow through the years. We now have six fifth generation family members.
Who has captured all these Schmid relative’s attention?
Answer: Cousin Dick Schmid, of course. Dick was the oldest of the 3rd generation cousins.
Our large, extended Schmid family now includes:
Two second generation aunts, our beloved Aunt Mary Schmid (Jim Schmid’s wife) and Aunt Janet Rhomberg (the youngest child of Titus and Doden).
Fifty-two third generation siblings, cousins and in-laws.
Sixty-three fourth generation siblings, cousins and in-laws.
Six fifth generation siblings and cousins, with a seventh baby due in June.
All 123 of us are planning to attend a family reunion this summer to celebrate Crescent’s 100th Anniversary!
About the Project as Explained by the Author:
Author Mary Schmid Daugherty is a third generation Schmid family member. Content for this Project, a historical narrative, was selected from the personal archives of many members of the Schmid family. The narrative itself required the author to cull and categorize hundreds of pieces of information (old newspaper articles, photos, interviews, movies and physical memorabilia). She then fit the pieces together to share this story of the Schmid family and Crescent Electric over the past 100 years. The resulting Project is a series of vignettes, of which this is one. She hopes you enjoy reading and watching these vignettes.
To learn more about the Author’s professional qualifications visit her website: https://www.stthomas.edu/business/faculty/directory/daugherty-mary.html
© Mary Schmid Daugherty May 2018
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