Obituary: Gertrude Catherine Schmitt

Silvermine artist Gertrude Catherine Schmitt passed away peacefully at the home of her niece just past midnight on Wednesday, September 26, 2018.

Gertrude was born August 24, 1932, the tenth child and only daughter of artist and founding member of the Silvermine Guild of artists, Carl Schmitt and his wife Gertrude.

Gertrude’s early memories are full of her nine brothers in Silvermine and Italy. At age five, her family settled for a time in Rome as her ailing Father took the air at a tuberculosis sanatorium in the Alps. Gertrude recalled playing in the fountains of Rome while waiting for her Mother to walk her home from her school on St. Peter’s Square.

With America on the brink of war, the family got out just in time. She recalled the tense voyage home, the ship idling at Gibraltar as British sailors searched the vessel. Back home in Silvermine, Gertrude began school in earnest, taking piano lessons and learning horsemanship with the New Canaan Mounted Troop. She attended the Country School in New Canaan, Georgetown School of the Arts, and New Canaan High School, finishing at Miss Thomas’s School in Rowayton.

Gertrude went on to the National Academy in New York, winning the prestigious Hallgarten Travelling Scholarship for three years’ study abroad at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome.

Upon her return to Silvermine, Miss Schmitt taught sport and all subjects at the Country School in New Canaan. While there, she learned violin, playing in the Norwalk Symphony alongside her brother Robert, a flutist.

She continued painting, showing her work locally, notably a 1980 exhibition of both her and her Father’s works at Waveny House, New Canaan. A happy traveler, she made pilgrimage to the Holy Land and trips to Europe. Her last trip to Italy fulfilled a commission from the Benedictine Monks of Norcia, Italy — a diptych of the life of St. Benedict.

Gertrude dedicated herself entirely to the care of her parents in their last decades. Her grateful Father gave her his home and studios upon his death in 1989 at the age of 100. She in turn gave them to the Carl Schmitt Foundation. Her brother Robert provided for her, and she cared for Robert until his death this past summer at the age of 98. Long-time parishioners and daily communicants at St. Mary in Norwalk, they came to love the 9:30 Traditional Mass, becoming a fixture on Sundays, second row, pulpit side.

Known for her years of care for her family, her faith, quick wit, and her ability to see and paint the transcendent beauty of the created world, Gertrude died as she lived, selfless and cheerful to the last.

She is preceded in death by her brothers Austin, Michael, David, John and Peter, and survived by brothers Jacob of Delaware, Carl of Washington DC, and the Rev. Christopher Schmitt of Texas.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday, October 4, 2018, at 10:30 AM at St. Mary Church 669 West Avenue, Norwalk. Interment will follow in St. John Cemetery, 223 Richards Avenue, Norwalk. Calling hours are Wednesday, October 3, from 4:00 to 8:00 PM at Collins Funeral Home, 92 East Avenue, Norwalk.

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