Donald Henry Schmidt, M.D. passed away at the age of 86 on April 19, 2022.

Loving husband of Mary K. Schmidt. Cherished father of Suzanne (Jeffrey Herold), Teresa (Jeffrey Sherman), Amy (Andrew Jones) and Donald, Jr. (Jessica Garretson). Beloved grandfather (“Papa”) to Emma, Max, Benjamin, Jack, Lucy, Lily, Mae, Claudia and Brett.

Preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Mabel Schmidt, and his sister, Alice Mae (Addy) Mathwick.

Donald spent his childhood on his family farm in Eagle River, Wis.

He attended a one-room schoolhouse and went on to graduate from Eagle River Union High School in 1953.

After an extended and unexplained illness during his senior year, Donald made the life-defining decision to become a physician.

In pursuit of this goal, Donald left northern Wisconsin to attend UW-Madison, at which he earned his B.S. in 1957 and his M.D. in 1960. Donald then left Wisconsin to continue his medical training in New York City at the First Medical Division at Bellevue Hospital (Columbia University).

His postgraduate training was interrupted by the Berlin Crisis. He was called to service as a captain in the United States Army and he then served as the commanding officer at the U.S. army hospital in Grafenwohr, Germany.

While in Germany, he received the devastating news that his father, Henry, was shot and killed by an intruder on the family farm.

After finishing his military service, Donald temporarily returned to Eagle River to support his mother, working with an esteemed private practitioner and dear friend, Lewis Jacobson, M.D. (deceased).

Donald then returned to New York City, bringing with him his widowed mother Mabel, to start the next chapter of their lives. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine and fellowship in Cardiology at Bellevue Hospital.

It was at Bellevue Hospital, during this training, that Donald met his match (literally and figuratively) in a magnetic and beautiful young nurse from Fond du Lac, Wis. named Mary K. Wagner, who became his lifetime love, companion and best friend.

Donald was then appointed to the Cardiology faculty at Columbia University.

Thereafter, Donald dedicated his career to the care of his patients, the education and advanced training of physicians and health care professionals, and the development of innovative treatments and treatment models for cardiovascular disease.

Returning to the family’s Wisconsin roots, Donald accepted an appointment as the Chief of Cardiology at the UW-Milwaukee campus. He established the Milwaukee Heart Institute as a center for integrated cardiac care.

He was recruited to join the Milwaukee Heart Project by Robert Flemma, M.D. (deceased), and together with Michael Mosesson, M.D., served as a principal scientific investigator on the project’s search for a fully implantable artificial heart. He promoted an innovative portable nuclear imaging gamma camera system for diagnostic testing throughout the world. He co-authored the classic text Heart Disease and Rehabilitation, along with publishing over 120 articles and 200 abstracts on cardiac care.

After leaving his position with the University, Donald entered private practice for ten years. He then spent the final years of his career with the Wheaton Franciscan Medical Group, bringing the rare combination of clinical expertise and simple, down-to-earth, human connection to the patients in his care. He retired at the age of 82.

In the little spare time that he had, Donald was an avid sports fan. He loved cheering on his Badgers at home games at Camp Randall and the Packers at Lambeau Field, alongside family and friends.

Forever the farm kid, he relished tending to his vegetable garden and greenhouse and tinkering with his tractors, always with a beloved canine companion by his side (Emmett, Pogo, Tonka, Molly, and finally, Bella).

Most precious to him, however, was time spent with his family.

Although Donald’s work afforded him the opportunity to see the world, Eagle River always remained home. He cherished family vacations on the Chain O’ Lakes, spending afternoons waterskiing on the lake and evenings cooking out on the fire pit he “hand crafted” from a truck wheel rim.

He also stayed connected to the farm, driving his dad’s 1950 GMC pickup through town, and pulling a family float behind his vintage Case tractor in the Fourth of July parade.

Donald drew his life’s energy from his work on the advancement of medical care. He was himself a testament to the power of medicine, having survived colon cancer, skin cancer, quadruple bypass surgery, aortic valve replacement, and a stroke. The one battle that he could not win was his valiant fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

The family would like to express its deep appreciation to Donald’s dedicated staff through the years and the brilliant practitioners and compassionate caregivers who helped him live a long and rich life, including Paul Werner, M.D., Tanvir Bajwa, M.D., Michael Malone, M.D., Greta Eisenhauer, the staff of Silverado North Shore and Brighton Hospice.

Throughout his life, Donald lived true to what he called the “Bumblebee Philosophy.” Like the bumblebee, which manages to fly despite seemingly impossible odds, given the proportion of its body and wing size, he believed that with a clear mission, determination, and doggedly hard work, anyone can overcome obstacles and live out a dream.

The family looks forward to celebrating Donald’s Bumblebee Philosophy, as he well lived it.

Following a private family service, visitation will be held on April 30, 2022, at 4 p.m. at Feerick Funeral Home, 2025 E. Capitol Drive, Shorewood, WI.

A private burial will be held in Eagle River on a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate support of the following organizations: The American Heart Association, Alzheimer’s Association, and St. Mark Lutheran Church (WELS) in Brown Deer, Wis.

PAID OBITUARY