Life on paper

Greenwood author Stephen Schmidt publishes two books to fulfill his son’s dream and honor his memory

Stephen Andrew Schmidt, of Greenwood, authored a book about the life and death of his son, Sir, We Found Your Dog, released on March 6. *Submitted photos

Stephen Andrew Schmidt once heard that the only way to impact your world is by preaching and writing. Having been a preacher in his past, he decided to take to writing. His autobiography, I Count My Life By Sabbaths, was published in late 2017, and Sir, We Found Your Dog, about the life and death of his youngest son, Trent, was released on March 6.

Stephen is hoping to keep Trent’s memory alive, not only by sharing his story, but by using the proceeds from both books to fulfill his son’s dream. Both father and son at one time took a turn at pastoring Triumph Church in Greenwood. The church never had a paved parking lot. Through the years, the church purchased homes and rented them until they were able to be demolished. That land has been turned into a parking lot, fenced in with sidewalks and landscaping. It just lacks pavement.

“He wanted it fenced in, paved and landscaped,” Stephen said. “That never happened. The city allowed us to build a fence around it. There’s parking there now, there’s sidewalks, but it lacks pavement. Hopefully I can generate that money. I want all the money to go to his dream.”

Stephen was born in St. Paul, Minn., in 1949. His family came to Indianapolis in 1950, where his father was an assistant pastor for a large congregation. He eventually took over a small congregation forming in Greenwood, Calvary Apostolic Church, now Triumph Church, a daughter church of Calvary Tabernacle in Fountain Square. The family relocated to Greenwood when Stephen was 10. Although he actually graduated from Harry E. Wood High School in 1966, he said he is considered a graduate of Greenwood High School by virtue of the class.

Stephen desired to be a lawyer, but his father wanted him to be a preacher and intervened in his plans for a college education. Instead, Stephen enrolled in a seminary, transferring to one in St. Paul, Minn. after a year. He graduated there, from the same school as his father and moved back home to Greenwood. He became assistant pastor at the church, youth director, choir director and custodian, while driving a school bus for Greenwood Community Schools. After a falling out with his father, Stephen decided to leave Indiana, eventually settling back in St. Paul where he met his wife, Wendy.

Trent Schmidt pastored Triumph Church for four years before joining the army. On leave from serving in Afghanistan, he was killed in an automobile accident.

“My salvation was to meet normal people and how they lived, since my family was so dysfunctional,” Stephen said. “During this time, my dad had moved on to another church, and the Greenwood congregation called and asked if I’d be their pastor. I refused. I said I’d pray that you get a good pastor… Finally, I (said yes). I began pastoring the church in 1971.”

Stephen and Wendy had three children. In 2001, Stephen decided he would finally fulfill his own dream of becoming a lawyer. He resigned from the church in 2003 and still practices law today. His youngest son, Trent, took over the church as pastor for four years.

“He was a clone of me, but a much better model,” Stephen said. “He was incredibly successful. A pastor becomes like a parent to many people. He was an introvert. He had a tendency to have migraine headaches. Every Monday, he’d retreat to his house, close the curtains and go to bed. He’d stay there for days, he was depressed. There are people who have a dark side, who are incredibly gifted, and they leave behind these treasures. People deal with their demons and can still succeed.”

After resigning from the church, Trent decided to pursue a career in the military, joining the army where he served a tour in Afghanistan. He came home on leave, when he was killed in a head-on car accident on State Road 37, south of Banta Road on Feb. 11, 2011.

“I wanted to write this book as soon as he died,” Stephen said. “I wanted him to live on.”

But he couldn’t. Putting his son’s story into words was too hard. After about four years, Stephen instead decided to begin writing his own life story.

“I stayed awake nonstop,” he said. “I wrote for about four months, a 600-page narrative of my life. There’s a lot of life lessons. I don’t hold anything back. There are so many stories and threads; people can learn a lot about decision making, how to be successful even if you’ve had bad stuff happen to you in your life. I think it’s full of practical knowledge. I think it’s interesting and entertaining.”

After his own story was finished, he was able to begin telling about Trent’s life. The book on Trent, Sir, We Found Your Dog, includes Stephen’s perspective, his Wendy’s perspective, and writings by Trent in his own words. Comments from Trent’s friends are included, as well as a collection of poems that fit into the storyline.

“Hopefully it’s a memorial that’s touching and moving,” Stephen said. “People will see a tragedy that took place, someone who died at age 35 way before he was done.”

The books are sold on Amazon, under Stephen Andrew Schmidt.