Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
WASHINGTON — A new flower planter appeared in Sunset park this spring, dedicated in memory of former Washington resident Gerry Schmidt, a renowned green thumb who died in 2021.
“She was a flower person in and out,” said Kate Rubin, Schmidt’s daughter. “She even, when they moved to the UP home, she had big flower pots on her balcony, and when she moved to the care center, she took those pots and put them out front and planted or bought the flowers to use there.”
While the Schmidts lived at the entrance to Sunset Park, Rubin’s mother volunteered to take care of the flowers there, as well as her own impressive, two-tiered home garden in the front yard.
Rubin’s family donated the planter to the park and paid for at least the next five years of its flowers. She said the gift, coordinated with the Washington Betterment Foundation, was a fitting way to honor her mom’s memory.
“It’s a living memorial, it’s not just something that’s stagnant,” she said. “The whole idea of life, and life going on … it’s flowers that she was ga-ga about, it’s how she volunteered her time.”
Schmidt is remembered for her tendency to bring “love gifts” to community members after they lost loved ones or went through difficult times.
“It’s nice and easy to talk about people who had weddings and showers and things like that, but it’s also the people who just needed them when somebody’s husband died,” Rubin said. “She would just show up in a backyard, she always knew when she needed to be there, and she would bring flowers or something to eat.
“My mom just always knew when they needed something, and you could check in by bringing flowers … I’ve had a couple of people, when she passed away that said, ‘your mom saved my life.’”
Rubin said she was happy to see the vitality her mom strove for living on around Washington.
“We’re really lucky, there’s so many little towns the size of Washington that haven’t kept up with the times or keeping the town vibrant,” she said. “Washington’s done a really good job, it’s a treat … to see the vibrancy and the beauty in Washington, it’s really heartwarming.”