Cover photo for Wayne Sam Schmidt's Obituary
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1945 Wayne 2024

Wayne Sam Schmidt

July 23, 1945 — June 1, 2024


Wayne S. Schmidt, FAIA, Hon. D.

July 23, 1945 – June 1, 2024 –


“What matters is how we live and love, and how we spend our dash.” ~ The Dash Poem by Linda Ellis

The only child of Bob and Anna, Wayne Schmidt was born in Evansville, IN on July 23, 1945.  His parents were business owners, operating first a gas station and then Schmidt’s Motel, the first motel in Evansville.   The motel lobby was their living room, and Wayne learned from an early age the value of work, the importance of service, and the allure of the entrepreneurial spirit.


After graduating from Evansville North High School in 1963, Wayne found his way to the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.  He was a member of the Alpha Rho Chi fraternity and would earn a degree in architecture…and the heart of Susan J. Jost, an education major from Delavan, IL.   Wayne graduated the morning of January 24, 1970, and that afternoon, he and Susan were married.


Wayne and Susan moved to Indianapolis, and Wayne began his career as an architect.


 Six years later, Wayne decided it was time to follow his own entrepreneurial spirit, and on July 4, 1976, with two young children at home and $800 in his pocket, the architecture firm that would become Schmidt Associates, Inc. was born.   Wayne would always remark (with his trademark sense of humor) how much he appreciated the entire country celebrating the anniversary of his office every year.


Wayne would spend the next forty-two years of his life serving clients and communities across Indiana through Schmidt Associates.  For Wayne, architecture was about more than bricks and mortar.  Yes, Wayne enjoyed designing buildings.  His creative, kaleidoscopic mind was always exploring new ways of looking at a design challenge, but the ultimate goal was something more than a beautiful building.   The goal was a beautiful building that served the needs of its owner and the community that owner served.


Schmidt Associates’ Mission was to “lead a design process based on mutual respect and shared investment.”   For Wayne, these were more than mere words; they were an extension of his core desire to lead with a servant’s heart.   He believed that if you first serve, you will be asked to lead.  His foundation of servant leadership permeated everything everyone at Schmidt Associates did…and they did a lot.


Early in Wayne’s career, Schmidt Associates did a lot of church design work, but most of Wayne’s tenure at the helm of Schmidt Associates was spent working with education, both K-12 and higher education.  The schools and university buildings Wayne and his team designed transformed the Indiana landscape, including high school projects at: Lutheran, Plainfield, Decatur Township, Brownsburg, Lake Central; and higher education projects at Purdue, Indiana, Ball State, Marian, Indiana State, Martin, and Ivy Tech Community College.  Schmidt Associates was also the program manager for the Indianapolis Public Schools bond program in the late 1990s and early 2000s, managing over $1 Billion in construction.  There are few Indiana school corporations that have not been touched by the creative minds at Schmidt Associates.

The restoration of the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Downtown Indianapolis was the first locally prominent project for Wayne.  Historical preservation became a specialty for the firm, and it led to a unique opportunity to restore the Illinois gravesite that temporarily protected Abraham Lincoln’s body while Abe’s permanent resting place was constructed.


Schmidt Associates’ first $100 Million project was the renovation of the Finance Center at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis.  The Finance Center is the second largest building in the entire federal government; second only to the Pentagon.  Wayne and his partners knew that taking on a project of that size carried significant risk for the firm, but risk was not an obstacle for Wayne.   It was simply an opportunity to realize.


Revitalizing Downtown Indianapolis was another opportunity.   Wayne loved Indianapolis.  He co-authored the book Indianapolis Architecture in 1975, and he frequently led Downtown tours with school children, pointing out various sculptures, statues, and architectural features.  And he turned his attention to Massachusetts Avenue.


In the 1980s, Mass Ave was not the destination that it is now.  It was filled with run-down buildings needing significant attention.   So, Wayne went to work.  He began with the renovation of the Hammond Block building, and his firm occupied the third floor for several years before moving to the Wil-Fra-Mar on Vermont Street.   That building was a former residential duplex that had been gutted by fire so badly that the second floor was inaccessible because the fire had destroyed the stairway.  Wayne saw something more.  


Wayne and Susan purchased the Wil-Fra-Mar, renovated it, and made it a home for Schmidt Associates.   They would later purchase the adjacent building and construct a third building – the Phi-Dan-Ste – on the Mass Ave side of the three-building complex.   Wayne’s vision for his piece of Massachusetts Avenue became a cornerstone for the revitalization of the entire area, laying the foundation for Mass Ave to become the cultural, residential, and professional beacon it is today.


Other Schmidt Associates projects of note over Wayne’s forty-two years included the NCAA Headquarters and Hall of Champions in White River State Park and the 333 Mass Ave. mixed-use commercial and residential development.  He was also an integral part of constructing the vision for the renovation of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.


Wayne threw his life into Schmidt Associates.  Sixty or seventy-hour work weeks were nothing for him, but he insisted that he never worked a day in his life.  He preferred to say that he had found a hobby that he got paid to do every day.   His energy was boundless and was not limited to designing buildings.


Wayne served on more civic and non-profit boards than can be counted but among them were the Indianapolis Repertory Theatre, St. Francis Hospital, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, and Lutheran High School of Indianapolis.  He was an active member of his faith congregations, serving as an elder at Trinity Lutheran Church in Indianapolis and Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Geist.  He was lay leader for Great Banquet faith renewal weekends, and he led witness groups for Kairos, a faith-based prison ministry.  Rumor has it that one time, in order to keep a promise that his already full schedule would not allow, Wayne painted houses for Habitat for Humanity at 2:00 in the morning.


Wayne loved to paint.   He had an annual tradition of doing a painting each year with his grandchildren, sharing a legacy of painting to express oneself.  He would take his paints with him when he travelled, capturing the view from an apartment balcony in Florida or a lakeshore in Wisconsin.


Wayne was a runner.   He finished three full marathons and twenty half marathons, including the very first Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in 1977.


Wayne was an Indianapolis 500 fan.  No, Wayne was an Indianapolis 500 fanatic.  He began attending races when he was five years old and missed only one race in seventy years.  Truth be told, his original career aspiration was to be a race car driver, and one of his lifetime thrills was meeting his hero, A.J. Foyt.


 Along with all of that, Wayne enjoyed scuba diving, riding snow mobiles, skiing, horseback riding, and driving sportscars.  He and Susan travelled extensively, setting foot together in forty-eight states, visiting Europe on seven occasions, and cheering the Indianapolis Colts to victory in Super Bowl XLI in Miami.  He was elevated to the Fellowship of the American Institute of Architects at age thirty-nine, and he received an Honorary Doctorate in Creative Thought from Martin University in Indianapolis.


 That’s a lot to pack in one little dash, and Wayne had loving companions.  He and Susan were married for fifty-four years.   Together, Wayne and Susan have three children (all married) and ten grandchildren:


           Dan and his wife, Jennifer Schmidt (Isaiah, Samuel, Cecilia, Luke, Maria, and Veronica),

           Stephanie and her husband, Scott Sego (Anna and Robin), and

           Phil and his wife, Johanna Schmidt (Henry and Ella).

 As the grandchildren grew in age, Wayne and Susan became avid fans of all things grandchild:   basketball, softball, volleyball, marching band, track and field, lacrosse, percussion, football, soccer, choir, cross country, band competitions, baseball, and school plays, and in the back of their vehicle they kept a stack of associated t-shirts, sweatshirts, and pullovers, rotating from one set of attire to the next as they cycled from event to event.  They travelled wherever the grandkids went, including Pasadena, California to see the Pride of Lawrence Township march in the Rose Bowl Parade.


Wayne once opined whether there was a dash “after your second date”, meaning the date of your death (the date of your birth being the first).  Wayne pondered this question as an illustration of eternal life in Heaven.   He did not wonder whether there was a third date.  That third date would mean Heaven was not eternal, that our time in Heaven would at some point end.


 Rather, Wayne wondered whether there should be a dash after your second date because, as a Christian, he knew his time on earth was transitory and temporary.  He knew that Jesus had come to earth to bear his sins, had died on the Cross, and was resurrected on Easter Sunday, and because Wayne had accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior, he would one day arrive at the Gates of Heaven and hear his Savior welcome him, saying:


“Well done, good and faithful servant.  Because you have been faithful in small things, I will place you over great things.   Enter into the joy of my kingdom.” ~ Matthew 25:23


Visitation will be Friday, June 7, 2024, from 3:00pm to 8:00pm at Flanner Buchannan Funeral Centers and Crematory, 7855 Cork Road, Indianapolis, IN, 46236.  


Funeral services will be Saturday, June 8, 2024, at 3:00pm at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 8115 Oaklandon Road, Indianapolis, IN, 46236.   Visitation will precede the funeral services starting at 2:00pm.   Burial will be a private ceremony at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, IN.


In lieu of flowers, Wayne’s family asks that you consider a donation to Kairos of Indiana, P.O. Box 681515, Indianapolis, IN, 46268-1515.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Wayne Sam Schmidt, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, June 7, 2024

3:00 - 8:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Saturday, June 8, 2024

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Funeral Service

Saturday, June 8, 2024

3:00 - 4:00 pm (Eastern time)

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