William Schmaedecke

| Visit Guest Book

COVINGTON - William Schmaedecke was asked a few years ago how he felt about retiring as Kenton County district judge after 21 years on the bench.

"When the book is written and it's all said and done, people are going to know I was on the planet," Schmaedecke said in the December 1998 interview. "If you can say that, then I think it's been a success."

Schmaedecke, of Crestview Hills, died of cancer on Friday, June 24, at St. Elizabeth Fort Thomas. He was 75.

"I never once heard him complain about his condition. I never once saw him down. I never once saw him depressed. I never saw him saying 'woe is me,'" said Northern Kentucky lawyer Andre Busald, who worked out with the retired judge three days a week at an area health club for 15 years. "He accepted the hand that was dealt him and he played it with dignity."

Busald said Schmaedecke was more than a gentleman. He was a gentle man.

"You would never hear him talk about how he disliked something or how he liked something or how he disagreed with this ...," Busald said. "He just listened."

Schmaedecke used his patients to deal with some of the most demanding defendants seen in district court - juveniles. He often volunteered to preside over juvenile court while other judges avoided it, said Kenton District Judge Ken Easterling, who prosecuted misdemeanor cases for about 10 years in Schmaedecke's courtroom.

"One of his favorite things he liked to tell a juvenile was, 'Don't misinterpret my patience as a sign of weakness.' He was patient but he was stern when it was called for."

In juvenile court, Schmaedecke developed a reputation as the kind of guy who had, well, a way of saying things. Among his retirement gifts was a book of "Schmaedisms," complied by court workers.

The saying in "The Little Book of Schmaedisms" included:

"You are an eyelash and a belch from being committed for residential placement," - explaining to a juvenile how important it was for him to get his act together.

"You don't kill a fly with a cannon or an elephant with a fly swatter," on doing enough to help, but not too much to harm.

"If you stroke a skunk, your hand will smell like one," on the importance of the company you keep.

His successor on the bench, Kenton District Judge Doug Grothaus, said Schmaedecke remained active within the judiciary even after his retirement.

"He gave me great insight into our role as judges and continued to do that many years after his retirement," said Grothaus, who was a felony prosecutor before taking the bench. "His influence is still felt and we are all going to miss him greatly."

Schmaedecke continued to assist the justice system by volunteering for committees. Former minister of Lakeside Christian Church John Russell remembers Schmaedecke from when they served together on the Kenton County Ethics Commission.

Russell said Schmaedecke was a progressive and positive person. He was proactive in educating people about the county's ethics code instead of waiting for people to violate it and then going after them.

"He had a fake gruff exterior because he wasn't a rough guy," Russell said. "He was a very gentle guy."

Prior to being elected judge, Schmaedecke served in the Kentucky House of Representatives. He was president of the Covington Kenton Jaycees and past president of the Catholic Social Service Auxiliary and Covington/Kenton Lions Club.

Survivors include his wife, Sandy Amend Clore of Crestview Hills; sons, Walter Schmaedecke of Berea and Will Schmaedecke of Fort Myers, Fla.; daughter, Sara Thilman of Portland, Ore.; stepson, Ed Clore of Fort Thomas; stepdaughter, Karen Ford of Walton; brother, Walter Schmaedecke of Sun City, Fla.; sister, Marcie Hundsrucker of Toledo, Ohio and six grandchildren.

Visitation will be 4-8 p.m. Thursday, June 30, at Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington. Mass of Christian Burial will be 11 a.m. Friday, July 1, at the church. Interment will be in St. John Cemetery, Fort Wright.

Memorials: The Cathedral Foundation, 1140 Madison Ave., Covington, KY 41011; Covington/Kenton Lion's Club, P.O. Box 17641, Covington, KY 41011; or St. Elizabeth Hospice, 483 S. Loop Road, Edgewood, KY 41017.

Written by Jim Hannah | jhannah@enquirer.com
Make a Free Website with Yola.