Donald R Schmitt
by AVA News Service, February 15, 2017
Don was born in Visalia, California. After college and his time in the Air Force, Don joined the financial world with a job as a trust officer at a Fresno bank. In 1967 he left that world and moved to Napa Valley with five children and a wife, eager to work on a project together. That project was Vintage 1870. Don loved Yountville and as councilman and mayor was instrumental in shaping its future, going on to found the original French Laundry, a family run business in the true sense of the word. Don and his wife Sally’s affection for the Napa Valley never wavered until they discovered the Anderson Valley in Mendocino County.
Don became the patriarch of The Apple Farm in Philo, where the family worked together again to create successful enterprises. The lifestyle they created there has been an inspiration to many, including ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Soon after midnight on February 6, Don died after a fall at our home on the Apple Farm. We quickly gathered the nearest family members and sat with him through the night until dawn with our memories and our tears. We will always treasure that morning with no interruptions, letting our grief come in waves. After we gathered the rest of the family, we said our goodbyes.
He was a loyal, loving partner and father, whose influence spread far beyond his immediate family. He had a good life. Our early morning vigil and family gathering was deeply satisfying for all of us. The immediate family will gather later in the spring to spread Don’s ashes.
We want to thank the Anderson Valley Health Center for making it possible for Don to die at home after a period of declining health. He couldn’t get around easily at the end, but never lost his appetite for a good meal, a glass of wine, and the company of his family and friends. He was an ongoing inspiration to all of us, our biggest supporter, loving and cheerful to the end.
With much gratitude for your outpouring of love and sharing of wonderful memories,
Sally and all the family.
Any donations, in lieu of flowers, may be made to the Anderson Valley Health Center, PO Box 338, Boonville, CA 95415. No formal services are planned.