By: Ben Kaplan
February 10, 2017
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Throughout life, we're lucky to be considered an inspiration or role model, truly making a difference in one person’s life.
One big FSU fan, now in his 90’s, continues to be that someone for generations of his own family. But, it’s his impact on others that’s truly woven into the ‘Fabric of the Big Bend.’
If Florida State's playing, you've probably seen Bob Schmidt there.
"I bleed garnet and gold," Schmidt says.
He was at January’s basketball game against nationally ranked Notre Dame, but that's nothing. How about the football game in '93 at Notre Dame?
“We lost the game... but Boston College beat them next week," Bob recalls.
And December's thrilling Orange Bowl win against Michigan. Yep, he was there too.
"There's nothing like high-fiving your 92-year-old dad when you've just won the Orange Bowl," Bob’s daughter Penny Scruggs says.
But while he might be known as the ultimate FSU fan, Bob Schmidt is so much more.
"I look at it as a medal for all my comrades who didn't come home."
Schmidt made those comments in December.
The World War II was honored with the ‘Legion of Honour’ by the French Government for helping preserve freedom after sneaking explosives onto the beaches in Normandy prior to D-Day.
But it was after the war Schmidt started his greatest adventure.
"The ability to survive 15 children,” his son Larry laughs.
Yes, Schmidt and his late wife Therese-Ann raised 15 kids! Talk about a home team.
"I never worried about it because every time we had another child, I got a better job or made more money. So, the Lord was taking care of me," Bob says.
It was a job as a district manager at a life insurance company that brought the family from Michigan to Tallahassee in 1965.
That's when Schmidt, who went to school at the University of Ohio, was first introduced to Florida State. You think he became the ultimate fan?
His kids say, he's a pretty darn good dad too.
"I appreciate my dad, he gave us a wonderful childhood just by being giving of himself. He and my mother both," daughter Penny says.
"He believes in the value of work and doing it right. I think that has passed down to all of his children," daughter Chris Kimmons adds.
Then there's the grandkids, 30 of them. Great grandkids? 38. Then five great-great grandchildren. That's 88 total, from kids on down.
And even that was not enough.
"He actually has close to 500 kids, from all the scouting members that he had," Larry says.
That's right, for 19 years Schmidt was also a head Scout Master.
"When Therese and I were married at the time, I never had a lot of money. So, I thought the way I could do it was to donate myself through service," Bob says.
Under his watch, 34 scouts achieved the rank of Eagle including two of his sons and a grandson.
So many others benefited from his tutelage, like Leon County Commissioner Bryan Desloge.
"I remember if you were talking at night in your tent and stuff like that, that came to a screeching halt when he said, 'stop, quiet down'. Bob Schmidt gave back, continues to give back way more than he ever took. Made this town a better place. Certainly made me a better person," Desloge recalls.
From the war, to his family and this community, Schmidt has made a huge impact.
He's also suffered heartache, losing two kids, his wife and battling through a stroke.
Through it all, he still inspires. So, what's his secret?
"Be a hard worker, be honest and treat other people as you'd want to be treated," Bob says.
The next time you see Schmidt at an FSU game, tell him, "Thank you."
Celebrate a lifetime that continues to amaze. Then help him celebrate the Seminoles next big win.