Janet, the beloved wife of Thomas Schmidt, passed away April 4, 2012, at the age of 70 after surgery from complications due to a perforated duodenal ulcer.
She was born December 16, 1940, in Springfield, TN, the second daughter of Dr. George Palmer Fowler and Lorene McClure. She was raised in Fort Worth, TX where her father was a professor of religion, Comparative Religions and New Testament Greek at Texas Christian University and Brite Divinity School. She graduated from Pascal High School in 1957 and received an AB degree from TCU in 1961, majoring in English. In 1960 she married Tom Schmidt and they moved to New York while he attended Columbia University graduate school. At Columbia she studied literature and art history. She was active in the Congress of Racial Equality and the civil rights struggles against employment and housing discrimination. She helped organize several busloads of protesters to attend the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. In 1966 they moved to Tuskegee Institute, AL, where her husband taught philosophy and humanities and she studied at Auburn University for a masters in English. The times were very dangerous and both continued to be active in civil rights movement. The pressures on them were great and they separated, divorcing a year later. She returned to Fort Worth where she continued her studies, teaching literature at TCU’s extension school at Carswell Air Force Base. She married Richard Ross, currently of Austin, TX, and had a daughter, Tara Ross, currently residing in Haarlem, The Netherlands.
Janet was employed as a money raiser for nonprofits, the United Way and Goodwill Industries. She was active in the University Christian Church in Fort Worth, leading a ministry for divorced and single Christians. She felt she had received a call, and in the late 1990’s entered Brite Divinity School, a seminary of the Christian, Disciples of Christ, Church. In 2006 she obtained a Masters of Divinity and became an ordained minister of the church in 2006. As a graduate divinity student she was the minister of a Christian Church in Mason, TX and served in the capacity of a student assistant minister for the First Christian Church of Fort Worth, developing programs that involved neighborhood people and that served women and the divorced and people grieving loss and death of loved ones.
In 2007 she accepted the call of the First Christian Church of Festus, MO. She remarried Tom, with whom she had kept in contact since their divorce, and they moved to Festus. There she helped revitalize an aging and slowly dying church, building the congregation slowly and starting several outreach programs, including CROP Walk and regular and frequent nursing home visitation. In 2010 she retired and she and her husband moved back to Spokane where she became active at the Country Homes Christian Church and the Peace and Justice League of Spokane. She also became active in interfaith programs.
Janet was able to minister to many people and was respected and well loved by those with whom she was in contact. She often worked so hard serving others as to endanger her own health. Being very intelligent and well educated in Christian history and Theology, and the Social Gospel Movement, she was known for bringing in to her work current issues and cultural advances that often could get her into trouble with the more orthodox. She was able to help many others see the relevancy of Christianity to contemporary issues. A devout Christian, she had been influenced by her contacts with many people from other religions. Before her passing she was initiated in the Sufi spiritual movement, becoming a member of the Sufi Ruhaniat International, receiving the spiritual name, Majida, meaning that the spirit of God’s love was gloriously abundant and available to all. The Bible passage she based her life on is
Micha 6:8:"and what does the Lord requireof you but to do justice,and to love kindness,and to walk humbly with your God?"
A Memorial Service will be held Saturday, April 28, at 2:00 p.m. at the Country Homes Christian Church, 8415 N. Wall St. Please visit Janet’s online tribute and leave a condolence at www.hennesseyfuneralhomes.com. Arrangements by Hennessey-Smith.