Peter James Schmitz was born April 28, 1940, in Hastings, Minnesota, to Elmer and Marjorie (Hansen) Schmitz. He was baptized in Hastings and as an infant moved with his family to St. Louis Park and later Hopkins. He was confirmed at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church and graduated from Hopkins High School in 1958. In 1962, he received his Bachelor’s Degree in English from the University of Notre Dame. Following graduation from Notre Dame he enrolled in Law School at the University of Minnesota. Peter married Emily Johnson on December 28, 1963, at St. Francis Cabrina Catholic Church in Minneapolis. Following graduation from the University in 1965, Peter and Emily moved to Pierre, South Dakota. After three years in Pierre, they moved to Northfield where Peter joined the firm Sawyer and Lampe. Peter then opened his own firm, building Schmitz, Ophaug & Dowd over many years, while earning the highest honors as a trial lawyer, until he retired on June 30, 2000.
Peter was a member of the Church of St. Dominic, the Minnesota Bar Association and the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division- spending several years traveling with a team that worked to mentor young attorneys. He was an active community leader and volunteer: chairing the United Way annual drive and frequently volunteering at the Community Action Center and Thursday’s Table. He enjoyed photography, fishing, cutting wood, and his beloved bulldogs. Peter had a strong work ethic and was a tough lawyer. Over the years he was not only a devoted and loving father to his children, but a mentor and father figure to many others. He will be greatly missed.
Survivors include his wife of 50 years, Emily; 2 children: Bill and wife Karen of Woodbury, Martha of Fridley; 2 grandchildren, Stephanie and Sydney; his brother-in-law, Bill Johnson and wife Jennifer Cox of Northfield; other relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents and sister Margaret Greene.
Following a brief illness, Peter passed away at home with his wife and family by his side on Wednesday morning, January 29, 2014, at the age of 73.
Mass of Christian Burial will be 11:00AM Monday, February 3, 2014, at the Church of St. Dominic in Northfield with Fr. Dennis Dempsey and Fr. Steve O’Gara officiating. Interment will be in Calvary Cemetery, Northfield Casket bearers will be Mark Estrem, Jim Blaha, Bill Cowles, John Holden, John Ophaug, and Adam Dowd. Visitation will be 1:00-4:00PM Sunday, February 2, 2014, at the Benson & Langehough Funeral Home. Visitation will continue at the church on Monday one hour prior to the funeral.
Memorials are preferred to St. Dominic’s Church, the Community Action Center or the Northfield Senior Center.
Arrangements are with the Benson & Langehough Funeral Home. www.northfieldfuneral.com