In memoriam: Robert "Bob" Schmidt
Robert “Bob” Reinhart Schmidt, 89, of Blacksburg, passed away on October 16, 2022 of natural causes. He is survived by his wife Phyllis of 66 years, his four children and spouses, 12 grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.
Schmidt graduated Falls Church High school in 1951 and went on to receive his Bachelor of Science degree in Horticulture from Virginia Tech in 1955 while serving on the Battalion Command Staff in the Corps of Cadets. He received his Master’s degree in Plant Physiology from the University of Maryland in 1957 and his Doctorate in Biochemistry from Virginia Tech in 1961. He joined the Biochemistry faculty at Virginia Tech after graduation and became the youngest full professor in Virginia Tech history.
Schmidt left Virginia Tech in 1980 for the University of Florida where he served as the Department Chair of Microbiology and Cell Science for two years before stepping down in 1982 to become a Graduate Research Professor and to dedicate his time to advanced research in his field and training the next generation of scientific researchers. Schmidt became a Graduate Research Professor, Emeritus in 1999, a role in which he served through his retirement.
Throughout his career, Schmidt dedicated himself to cutting edge research in the field of biochemistry and microbiology, earning patents for his groundbreaking research in plant genetics. He served on several scientific boards and task forces, published more than 60 refereed papers, eight book chapters and received more than 20 multi-year research grants throughout his career. He received awards for biotechnology research, as well as awards for teaching excellence, and was elected to the American Society of Biological Chemists. He supervised more than 50 graduate and postdoctoral researchers and more than 20 undergraduate research participants. Those students who trained under him went on to become leading researchers in the fields of medicine, genetics, cancer research, and other related fields.
In his free time, Schmidt enjoyed many hobbies, chief among them fly fishing and gardening. His gardens were widely admired and often drew the attention of many passers-by who stopped to marvel at the lush, expansive greenery. Schmidt also applied his science background in making legendary party drinks that delighted his guests and were the talk of faculty gourmet participants for many years. Schmidt also delved into winemaking and even received a license in order to officiate at his granddaughter’s wedding. Schmidt was always looking to expand scientific and personal frontiers and will be greatly missed by his family and friends.
Funeral services will be private. To send flowers or a memorial gift to Schmidt's family, please visit here.