Alfred Allan Schmid

March 12, 1935April 5, 2017

Alfred Allan Schmid, 12 March 1935-5 April 2017. Born on a farm near Dawson, Nebraska, to Alfred Edward and Florence (Beutler) Schmid. B.Sc. University of Nebraska, Ph.D. University of Wisconsin. University Distinguished Professor Michigan State University where he taught for 47 years. Husband of Alice Bryam Todd (1934-1984) and Kay Ann (McDevitt) Carroll. Father of John (Diane Eddy) Schmid and Elizabeth (Burnham) Fox. Stepfather of Charles (Cindy Moore) Carroll, James (Margaret Selasky) Carroll, Thomas (Susan Hibbins) Carroll, Patrick Carroll, Daniel (Betsy Bruner) Carroll; 11 grandchildren, Emily Durkin, Jordan (Amanda Stokes) Durkin, Lindsay (William) Peters, Michael Carroll, Reid Carroll, Owen Carroll, Ian Carroll, Cameron Carroll, Annie Carroll, Patrick Carroll, and Sarah Schmid; 4 great-grandchildren, Amaya Guyton, Liam Peters, Blaine Durkin, and Luca Peters; and many extended family members. Alfred was the author of several academic books and a historical novel, ‘The Quest for Land and Fortune’. He was an incurable, inveterate romantic who loved fiercely. Collected cookbooks and could bake a French baguette; had a library of over 1,000 non-academic books; wrote poetry, travel memoirs (17 bound volumes), scholarly books translated into Chinese, Italian, and Indonesian. Visited Machu Pichu, Etosha, the Great Wall, Mont Saint-Michael, the Alhambra, Teotihuacan and the Pyramids; worked briefly in Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe. With his travel buddy Kay, rode the great trains of Europe including the TGV and ICE; made a grand tour from Rotterdam, Paris, Berlin, Krakow, Budapest, Wein, Innsbruck, and Bern; made a bus trip to the American National Parks in Arizona, Utah, and Wyoming. He was a sculptor, and had an extensive art collection with Kay; researched genealogy, documenting 7,000 names; owned a farm where he was born; had a sense of style in clothes and household furnishing; drove his 944 at the Porsche auto-cross school; took classes in golf, tennis, bowling, archery; wrote an historical novel plus historical articles; sang in weddings, a university Glee Club, and a rendition of Ole Man River that surprised the heck out of his grandchildren. Lived for various periods in Dublin, Madrid, London, Cambridge, Bath, plus sabbatical leave in Bloomington, Boston, Tucson, and Berkeley; rode a pony to a one-room country grade school; saw every place in the DC guidebook while living there for a year on two occasions; visited the great art museums of the world – London’s National, Prado, Louvre, Rijksmuseum; enjoyed some of the great thespians of our time; singers; musicians; dance companies; was a collector of antiques and a few others things. In short, a man of broad tastes and interests. Some say you are what you eat, he said “you are who you love”. Some say no, but Alfred said “yes”. A Celebration of Alfred’s Life will be held on Saturday, May 13 2017, 12 p.m. at Eagle Eye Country Club, 15500 Chandler Rd., Bath, MI, with visiting one hour prior.

The family is being served by Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes, East Lansing. On-line condolences and memories may be shared with the family at


  • Visitation Saturday, May 13, 2017
  • A Celebration of Alfred's Life Saturday, May 13, 2017

Alfred Allan Schmid

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Bill Sinclair

January 2, 2018

Kay, you are the point person for many memories that your husband generated and this is no suprise to you. I was a gradute student 1971-1975 and was blessed to meet his Socratic way of teching where he just kept asking questions to his students requiring further penetration on the topic of discussion. For graduate students looking for the "answer" this could be quite challenging. As Bill Ward mentioned in his memory, Al would sit with the student in silence allowing himself and the student, and anyone else who was in the room to "think". This could be uncomfortable until you learned that silence was the path to deeper knowledge. Al had integrity and a commitment to his students. I only wish that my path could have crossed his path once I left MSU. Thanks for listening Kay.

Bill Sinclair, Springfield, Virginia

Kay Schmid

December 24, 2017

To each one of you, many thanks for your words of remembrance regarding our dear Al. We have been consoled many times over by your contributions. As we must, we are carrying onmuch joy mixed with moments of sadness. Blessings to you this holiday season.

Hunter Nielson

December 21, 2017

I count myself among the lucky few. I was privileged to attended Dr. Schmid's last class at MSU and what I learned from him about how to think about the world comes back to me often. In fact, this morning Al was on my mind as I heard a petition from NPR for a year-end donation. I thought: "I have been free-riding on this thing for too long! It's time I grow up and donate already!" So it was with a heavy heart this morning that instead of finding his Blog, my Google search returned his obituary. I was hoping to say thanks, again, for the small but meaningful impact you've had on my life, Dr. Schmid. Sincerely, thanks.

William Ward

July 3, 2017

For a time I feared the pensive pause, the stare, the intellect behind each. Later I admired and sought out the wisdom, the wit that also was there. Eventually I grew to love them all, as well the man who possessed that unique combination of a tough and rigorous intellect constrained by a soul that was gentle and loving. I was honored to be one of his PhD students. That led to a fantastic career filled with opportunities that even had our lives intersecting again in Dublin at one point. His family should hear once again what a magnificent scholar and human being this man was and how many of our lives he changed. Bill Ward (MSU PhD 1972)

June 22, 2017

Dear Kay and family,
It was just this week that I learned of Al's death. I will think of it as the people of Botswana do, Al has become "late." I also know that one's immortality is substantially what others remember of him. I will never forget what he has shown me, taught me, and mentored in me. Please accept my sympathy for you very personal loss - know that I share some of that loss.

George McDowell

Paul Strasberg

June 12, 2017

I learned of Dr. Schmid's passing today - being away from Michigan so long means it takes a little longer for the news to get to you. Dr. Schmid - Al - what a wonderful mentor, a wonderful teacher and thinker and friend.

I was inspired as a Ph.D. student by my interactions with Al Schmid and Jim Shaffer in AEC 810...I learned so much in such a profound way that these two shaped my way of this day. Al Schmid was the kindest, most wonderful teacher and human being and we have lost one of the greats.

Eric Crawford

May 13, 2017

Dear Kay, Mary and I were very sorry to hear of Al's passing away. We both greatly enjoyed the times we spent with Al and you. Al was also very kind to me and supportive when I first joined the department, long ago in 1979. He invited me to join his regular discussion group with other faculty members, including Glenn Johnson and Jim Shaffer. That not only made me feel welcome but provided a welcome intellectual challenge! We will remember Al very fondly, and wish you and the rest of the family the best as you adjust to his passing. With Love, Eric and Mary Crawford.

Jake Ferris

May 12, 2017

Dear Kay and family, Maxine and I are very sorry for your loss. While Al and I did not work closely professionally, I did enjoy his association. Way back in the 1960s, he was a member with me in a barbershop quartet. We actually performed at department parties. He had a very good voice. The history he wrote in retirement impressed me very much.

Lawrence Busch

May 12, 2017

Dear Kay and family,

I had the honor and pleasure of knowing Al during my 25+ years at MSU. In fact, when I was considering moving to MSU from Kentucky, the institutionalist group, certainly including Al, was one of the main reasons for my move. Over the years, I got to know him as one of the most thoughtful, caring people I have ever met. His writings inspired and continue to inspire me. I counted him as good friend. I know that I will miss him and I am sure that you will as well. In his quiet, insightful way he brightened the world of those around him.

Wishing you all the best,


James and Patricia Sterns

May 11, 2017

Dear Kay,
We are deeply saddened to hear of Al's passing, and extend our heartfelt condolences to you and your wonderful family. We have always treasured our memories of house-sitting and living in "Chateau Schmid" while we were graduate students and you were in England. You were the only one who saw us sneak off from the Department's graduate student welcome reception when Patricia first arrived (we were off to our first movie date!). Al liked to tell me that we forever improved his impression of the Kellogg Center, where he couldn't help but recall our wedding reception every time he went there - he said he would just smile to himself each time a walked in the room. We all have our memories...these are a few mine. God's Peace!