Tuesday, May 17, 2011

David Schmitt Memorial Tribute

David and I had paddled together on quite a few rivers. I'll never forget his kindness and inspiration. On May 7th, 2011 our beloved friend, David Schmitt, passed away. When I met David his ability was way beyond mine, but despite the gap we became great friends right off the bat. Upon hearing the news of his death many friends and family began clearing their schedules and heading for Casper, Wyoming in order to pay their respects at his funeral on Thursday, May 12th. When I showed up late Wednesday night I met our friend Jason Baker and headed over to David's house to visit with the family. I was blown away at how packed his house was with friends and family.

David loved the river and anything to do with kayaking. The first thing his mother, Susie, said to me was, "If it was up to David we would be doing this on some river in the middle of nowhere."

David on Kootenai falls MT
Photo: Leif Anderson

After spending time with David's family, Jason Baker, Mike Perry, and I decide to go meet Leif Anderson, Natalie Kramer, Nathan Werner and Spencer Mauk for a midnight play session in memory of David. All of us were a little shaken up by this whole situation, but surfing a few waves really gave us some peace and brought us a little closer to David.

The next morning we all gathered for David's funeral which was beautiful. The church was huge and every pew was packed full. Some people even had to stand outside the church listening over a speaker. Robert Grant put together a wonderful speech about David and his kayaking.

After the Funeral we went to David's house to visit. Mike Perry put together a great video of David.

After we all ate and talked about David we went to Casper White Water Park. David spent many hours here, and we all thought it was appropriate to do a tribute play session for him. Over 2 dozen kayakers showed up in honor of David. Even the local news station showed up to report about David. K2 News

Photos by John Mathiott

That night Mike, Jason, and I decided that we weren't done. Deer Creek was running and David would have put down everything to run it if he was there. Before I talk about this run, if you're trying to plan a trip to run Deer Creek don't go until you talk to a local. The accesses is extremely sensitive! Jason and I left to go meet Mike who's wife Britney drove us to the putin and who's dad picked us up at the take out. This run is has the pool drop character of Box Elder, the continuace creeking of the Embudo, and the drops of Big South. Needless to say it was a great day, and a perfect way to pay our respects.

We're all going to miss David. Jason Baker said it best, "David was a Awesome guy, for all the years that I knew David he was the nicest guy to everyone, and he always had a huge smile no matter what happened. The best memories I have of David are the times we paddled together. He was like a big brother to me and showed me everything there is about kayaking, and also showed me how to do new tricks all the time. I know he will be with me at the put in every time and Love you Schmitty!!!!!!!"

Here's a video on Deer Creek by Mike Perry:


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