Ponte Vedra resident John “Jack” Schmidt likes to be involved in the community. In addition to serving on the board of trustees for the Winston Family YMCA and the Beaches Museum & History Park, Schmidt was recently appointed to the board of trustees of the Episcopal School of Jacksonville, of which he is an alumnus. He particularly enjoys helping organizations with fundraising – something, Schmidt admits, not everyone is fond of, but it’s a niche area where he seems to excel.
You have a long history with the Episcopal School of Jacksonville.
I was in the first graduating class in 1970. The school had just started; my dad worked with the founding group of people. We only had 52 in our class. Over the years, as Episcopal grew, I stayed involved. I helped start the alumni association and we started doing a lot of fundraising and reunion planning – things that all schools have already, but we had to start everything from scratch. Last year was our 45th reunion, so we decided to set a goal of 45 percent of our classmates giving to Episcopal’s annual fund. We had a competition with the other classes whereby a flag with the winning class year gets flown over the courtyard for a year. We got to 44.6 percent; we were very close to 45 percent. It was a school record – they’d never had above 29 percent.
What are you looking forward to doing as a member of Episcopal’s board of trustees?
I like development, and I enjoy doing campaigns for specific-type projects. I enjoy having a project, raising money for it and seeing it through. That is actually how I recently became more involved at Episcopal. We had the fundraising for my class but Episcopal is also having a capital campaign to make improvement to the athletic facilities and other campus improvements, so I’ve been helping with that also.
What other organizations are you involved with?
I’m involved with the YMCA; I was the first chairman of the Ponte Vedra YMCA. Ever since high school, I’ve been involved in the YMCA, so that’s always been a fun group to be associated with. In the past, I have been involved with the United Way of St. Johns County and the Rotary Club of Jacksonville. Right now, I’m mostly involved with the Beaches Museum & History Park, the Ponte Vedra YMCA and Episcopal.
Tell me about your involvement with the Beaches Museum & History Park.
I’ve been on the Beaches Museum & History Park Board of Directors for three years, but I’ve really been active with the museum for about 10 years. I think what I like the most about the Beaches Museum board is it’s an active board – meaning that Executive Director Chris Hoffman calls on the board all the time for ideas, fundraising and hands-on type of projects. I headed up the 10th anniversary party for the museum. We called through all of our lists and we got former board members, officers, supporters and executive directors back – I think we had about 150 people in attendance. It wasn’t a fundraiser, it was just a chance to get everyone together again, thank them and show them how well we’ve done.
I also co-chaired the fundraising campaign to relocate the 1873 cabin to the Beaches Museum property along with Suzanne McCormick Taylor. The fun thing about the cabin is we were able to raise the money but also help with the decision making on the refurbishment.
Were you originally from the Beaches area?
More and more, I’ve become a beach person. I grew up in town. Lori and I met at the University of Georgia – she was from the beach, I was from town. We were married in 1974. When she said that she would marry me, she said that we’d have to live at the beach. That was not a bad proposition, and we’ve been out here ever since.
The fun thing about the beach and being involved with the museum is it’s such a unique community. If you start in Mayport and you go beach by beach, everybody is cohesive but also proud of where they are. Now that we have the Beaches Museum, we can pull all that in and it’s interesting to see how historical the area really is.
Tell me about your family.
My wife, Lori, and I have three grown children – Kathryn, Lauren and Andrew – and five granddaughters. Kathryn and Lauren live in Portland, Ore. along with four of our granddaughters. We visit frequently. Andrew and his wife live in town. He’s an ER doctor at UF Health.
I understand you also owned a travel agency?
I owned and operated Carlson Wagonlit Travel, a retail travel agency franchise with offices in Jacksonville and Orlando. I sold it 10 years ago, but I had it for about 30 years. The great thing about owning the travel agency is my family loved to travel, so we had the opportunity to take our kids overseas several times. In 1983, we went to Czechoslovakia and into East Germany – when the wall was still there – which was a fascinating trip. Two years ago, we decided to repeat the same trip. We went back and it was amazing to see the contrast. We also like taking adventure-type trips. We’ve done some hiking in Ireland, and we did a bike ride in New York City a couple of years ago.