Schmidt, George N. Union activist, journalist and retired Chicago public school teacher George N. Schmidt died peacefully at home on Sept. 17, just a few weeks before his 72nd birthday. He died of lung cancer, diagnosed in August, complicated by a series of strokes. He was the editor of Substance, an independent newspaper in Chicago covering public education that he helped found in 1975. George was preceded in death by his parents, Neil and Mary Schmidt. He is survived by his wife of 20 years, Sharon (nee Griffin); sons Dan (29), Sam (17) and Josh (13); brother Thomas; sisters Joan (late Don O'Toole) and Terry (Glenn Foreman), their daughter Jade; father in-law and mother in-law Emory and Jean Griffin; brother in-law James Griffin (Jennifer Bierman), and their daughters and son Alison, Kyle, and Amy; and dozens of Schmidt and Lanigan aunts, uncles and cousins. George was an exciting person, a dynamo in his youth, whose multifaceted career spanned five decades. He helped many thousands of people with his tireless energy, intense focus, intellectual gifts, desire to serve and unwavering commitment to the the truth. A University of Chicago alumnus, George was a brilliant English teacher, who worked inside his classroom and within the Chicago Teachers Union serving in various roles including delegate, mentor, consultant and researcher for quality education for students and fairness for school workers. While he believed that public schools and unions are essential in improving the lives of working class people, George knew the institutions needed watching. He used print newspapers and an online news service to hold accountable those in power. Much of his ongoing critique of the Chicago Board of Education was against racist policies. His fight against injustice began in the 1960s when he worked with soldiers in the GI Movement, organizing against the Vietnam War, in part through the production of underground newspapers. George was a voracious reader, who sought to understand everything in history and politics. He loved poetry and literature, as well as biographies, essays and news writing. As a reader and writer, he relished the truth, which had to include the context of events. George was compelled to tell the full story. He loved his sons and wife passionately, enjoying and encouraging their gifts. George will be dearly missed by them and by so many others whom he helped or inspired over the years. A complete obituary will be available on the Substance News website on Oct. 1. See www.substancenews.net. Those who wish to contribute testimonies for publication at Substance may email them to Georgeschmidtstories@gmail.com. Loop Church pastor Mark Brouwer will conduct a funeral service at 2 p.m.. on Saturday, Sept. 22, in the Mt. Olive Church sanctuary, 3850 N. Tripp, Chicago. Friends and family may pay their respects at the visitation on Thursday, Sept. 20 from 4 to 9 p.m., or on Saturday, Sept. 22 from 1 to 2 p.m., at Mt. Olive Church. In lieu of flowers, donations in George's name may be sent to Loop Church, 11 E. Adams St., Suite 1200, Chicago, IL 60603 (loopchurch.org) or FAIR, 124 W. 30th Street, Suite 201, New York, NY 10001. Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting is the nonprofit progressive national media watch group (fair.org).
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Published in Chicago Sun-Times on Sep. 18, 2018.