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Published: Sunday, 12/19/2004

Trophy company founder was avid golfer and bowler

Rollie Schmidt, 84, whose trophy business became one of the largest such firms in Ohio, died from complications of Alzheimer's disease Friday at Hospice of Northwest Ohio on South Detroit Avenue.

He was in the Ohio Veterans Home, Sandusky, the last six weeks, his wife, Ruth, said.

Mr. Schmidt, of South Toledo, was an accomplished bowler and golfer in 1958 when he learned to engrave to earn extra money. He assembled trophies in the basement of the family's Oregon home.

"He saw what was on the market, and he felt he could do a better job," his son, Richard, said.

At first, he supplied bowling trophies and other awards. A four-tier trophy rack on wheels that he designed was set up in bowling alleys and became a rolling ad for the firm.

In the early 1960s the business moved to West Sylvania Avenue, and Mr. Schmidt joined with bowler Joe Veres.

By the late 1960s, Mr. Schmidt bought out his partner's interest and became president of Rollie Schmidt Inc., which he and his wife built into one of the largest trophy firms in the state. The company's customers included schools and bowling leagues.

"He had a high sense of quality," his wife said. "That pervaded whatever we put out."

The firm became involved with the Special Olympics in the late 1960s, initially donating trophies.

Later, most of the firm's business was with the Special Olympics - die-casting medals, manufacturing ribbons, even printing wrappers for candy bars to be sold as a fund-raiser.

In 1983, the company expanded its new home on Frenchmans Road because it needed room to store 100,000 stuffed pelicans: The Schmidts had received the contract to supply the International Special Olympics in Baton Rouge that year with the games' mascot, Pierre Pelican.

The business was a family enterprise, even as it employed more than 30 people. His wife did design work and became president. His son worked in engraving and silk screening and researched the company's equipment needs.

Mr. Schmidt and his wife sold the business in 1990.

He grew up in East Toledo and was a graduate of Waite High School. He was a Coast Guard veteran of World War II and was stationed stateside.

He worked for Sun Oil Co. for more than 20 years, beginning in 1938.

As a young man, he was a caddy master at a golf course and a pin setter at a bowling alley. He became a regular with the Times - later The Blade - Traveling Classic. He set league records regularly in the 1950s and '60s and bowled three 800 series.

He won a seniors golf tournament in the late 1980s.

Surviving are his wife, Ruth, whom he married Sept. 11, 1948; son, Richard; five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

At Mr. Schmidt's request, his body was donated to the Medical College of Ohio. Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday in Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, which he attended.

The family suggests tributes to the Cherry Street Mission or a charity of the donor's choice.



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