Al Schmidt, New President, Keys on Building Relationships
By SAUL RESNICK
Special to the Sun
This is another in the occasional series of stories The Sun is running about people who make significant contributions to the community.
Family. God. Building relationships with and helping others. Great sense of community. Compassion.Al Schmidt, newly-installed president of the Haddonfield 65 Club, a male social club with about 150 members, is the ideal man for the job, because he’s defined by all of those attributes.
Nowadays, Al, who had a lengthy career as an executive at IBM, volunteers to get things done for other people.
Al says it well, “I love to take the time and put in the effort to help people, by building relationships and seeing positive results. The 65 Club, my church and various actions in the community have helped me do that, and I enjoy every minute of it.”
Al joined the 65 Club about 3 and a half years ago; prior to that he developed a web site for the club.
Henry Leimkuhler, the affable and well-liked president of the club in 2017, said of Al, “He did a great job in 2017 as first vice president, scheduling numerous speakers for our Thursday afternoon sessions who produced entertaining and informative talks for our members. Al is a special person, with the ultimate in integrity and a great sense of humor. He’s been a huge asset for our club and will do a great job as president.”
Al is a long-time member of the Grace Episcopal Church in Haddonfield, which has about 500 families in its flock. “I’ve been involved with numerous activities, including key roles with the property and finance facets of the church, as well as outreach charitable actions the church participates in to help needy people in Camden and other places,” said Al. “My wife Bobbie plays a key role as treasurer of the Episcopal Church women’s group, and I’m really proud of her and the work she does.”
Al, a native of Camden, earned a BA degree in physics with a minor in math at Rutgers University in Camden, and credits his parents, Alfred and Frances, with encouraging his education goals and with their financial assistance. “My mom and dad worked hard to make my road easier,” said Al with great admiration.
After graduation, Al worked for a company in Ilion, NY, as a process engineer, then switched gears and taught 10th grade math at Camden High School for two years. “Both jobs were challenging and fulfilling, but I was looking for something else,” recalled Al.
“One day I went to a job fair in Philadelphia, submitted my resume to an IBM recruiter, and had a brief interview in which I told him I wanted to start at the top and work my way up,” said Al with his dry sense of humor. “I guess my comment along with my education background worked. I was hired 10 minutes later.”
That began his 30-year career with IBM. Al met his future wife Bobbie when they both worked at IBM in 1969 and they married in 1970. He then embarked on numerous jobs in the world of IBM business machines and small business computers.
“I began in Philadelphia,” said Al, “Serving the needs of various companies, including Scott Paper. Later, I held positions of more responsibility at places like Rochester, Minnesota; White Plains, NY (IBM headquarters); overseas assignments including four years in Paris, France with Bobbie and our two kids from 1988 to 1992, which we thoroughly enjoyed. I traveled throughout Europe, and at times was responsible for facets of work with our Europe, Middle East and Africa customers, including a week in Moscow, Russia, all the while serving various customer needs as a planner and supplier of IBM equipment.”
But the most important part of Al’s life is family.
“I have a wonderful wife and two superb children,” said Al with great pride. “Bobbie did a great job in raising the kids while I was traveling on the job frequently. She encouraged them with education and the need to be independent.
“Our daughter, Kirsten, 42, is married to Steve Berger, and they have three kids, Katie, 11, and Kristi, 9, born in Germany, and Elie, 4, born in Israel. Kirsten is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, and was a critical care nurse as a well as a captain in the U.S. Army. She is now retired and lives near Tampa, Florida, with the kids. Steve is active as an Army colonel, currently on duty in Kuwait.
“Our son, Keith, 40, a graduate of Brown University, works for Google as a senior analyst in Chicago, and he and his wife Suzanne, who earned a doctorate from Yale University with a degree in Northern Renaissance Paintings and Drawings, have two kids, Karl, 7, and Max, 4.”
“Life has been a great adventure of discovery,” said Al with a special passion. “A great family and faith in God and in all the people I meet has been the ultimate enriching experience on life’s tour.”
If you are interested in joining the Haddonfield 65 Club, contact Bill Brown at (856) 429–4368 or email him at Billbrown08033@aol.com for further information.