Richard L. Schmalz, 84, beloved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and distinguished corporate attorney died peacefully in his home in Arden, NC, on May 30, 2020. Mr. Schmalz was a member of the Bar of the Court of Appeals of the Federal Circuit and a member of the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States of America. He received his juris doctor degree with honors from George Washington University School of Law and belonged to the Maryland and New York State Bar associations. He was Vice President of the Law Department, Asst. Corporate Secretary and Asst. General Counsel, and General Patent Counsel for Westvaco Corporation. His passionate voice of reason, clarity, and fairness guided legal strategies in intellectual property and environmental law for Westvaco for more than 40 years. During his career, “Dick” Schmalz was an active member of the law committee of the American Forest & Paper Association, the trade association of the U.S. wood products industry. The son of Orpha and William, Richard Schmalz was born in Dayton, KY. His father, a tailor and volunteer firefighter, instilled in him a sturdy work ethic, a strong sense of duty, and a patriotic spirit that swelled throughout his life with every national achievement. He was an ardent supporter of the U.S. military, and his older brother, William, served in the Army during WWII. That same love of country would help to sustain him through every national tragedy.
Growing up in Dayton, he met in the 7th Grade the love of his life, Kathryn Davis. Together they attended Dayton High School. She was a cheerleader, he was a natural leader and a strong athlete, lettering in four varsity sports. In his senior year, he led the Dayton High Green Devils to an undefeated football season as its quarterback. Upon graduation he served as salutatorian of the Class of 1953.
Richard Schmalz attended Centre College in Danville, KY. He was co-captain of the baseball team and became president of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity. Already a champion of equal justice, he was quietly proud that as president of SAE—a fraternity founded in the Antebellum South—he diversified membership in the college’s chapter. He married his 7th Grade sweetheart at the start of his senior year and in 1957 received the A.B. degree in chemical engineering, graduating cum laude. He was selected to play semi-pro baseball with the Cincinnati Reds farm team but, with a young and growing family, he embarked on a different career. Fresh out of college, he worked as a chemist for the U.S. Playing Card Company.
As part of his training, he attended The Institute of Paper Chemistry in Appleton, WI where his interest in the paper industry was born. He joined Westvaco in 1960. His career with Westvaco, later called MeadWestvaco, would take him and his family to West Virginia, Maryland, and in 1971, to New York. He was the first patent attorney in the company’s history and developed a powerful team of intellectual property attorneys. A close-knit group even after parting ways, many stayed in contact until his passing. One remembered him as “the best boss we ever had. Dick always went to bat for each of the attorneys that worked for him.”
Mr. Schmalz was known by colleagues, outside counsel, and government regulators alike as an attorney of the highest level of professionalism and ethics. His reputation for taking a fact-based position was well established early in his career and would ultimately lead him to successful arguments before the Supreme Court of the United States of America, as well as in international jurisdictions in Germany and Great Britain. Early in his professional life he received a fortune cookie that proved both inspirational and prescient. For decades, he taped that fortune to the desk in his home office to remind himself of it every day. It reads, “Good counsel is a pearl beyond price.”
Mr. Schmalz retired to Arden, NC in 2003 where he attended the First Baptist Church of Asheville and subsequently the First Baptist Church of Hendersonville. He served on the finance committee at each. An amateur pianist—the Flight of the Bumblebee was his most prolific performance—his love of music guided him to the board of Directors of Asheville BRAVO Concerts. He also donated his time and talents to the Advisory Boards of the Salvation Army and the Boys and Girls Club of Buncombe County. He worked on behalf of the homeless and the hungry at Crossroads. His membership in the Freemasons and his status as a Kentucky Colonel are reflective of his commitment to charity and service. Since boyhood, his love of baseball kept him an ardent fan of the Cincinnati Reds. Well into his 70s he would return to Riverfront Stadium, and later, Great American Ballpark, to watch the Reds play. There he developed a unique camaraderie with security staff that began when he presented his insulin kit at the stadium entry checkpoint declaring, “I can’t have a bratwurst without a shot.” Mr. Schmalz was such a frequent visitor; he became known to them as the “braut and a shot guy.” He remained close to his high school and college friends in Kentucky, as well as to his friends and colleagues from professional life. He was extremely generous in private and shared his good fortune with many in his life and extended family.
While the law was his life’s work, golf was his passion. Whether on vacation on the Outer Banks of North Carolina or at Salem Country Club, the Country Club of Asheville, or Hendersonville Country Club, he could be found on the links until his declining health kept him from the fairways. Mr. Schmalz took great pride in his family. He was a loving husband to Kathryn Schmalz; and a devoted father to Richard L. Schmalz Jr., Lori and her husband Daniel Charles, and Elizabeth L. Schmalz. He was proud of his grandchildren, Brian Charles and his wife Ruby, and Jason Cochran and his wife Candice. And, he was thoroughly delighted by his three great-grandchildren, Pervis (17), Keylana (13), and Giovanni (2). His family wishes to express heartfelt appreciation to Hospice of the Carolina Foothills and to the wonderful CNAs who cared for him with compassion and gentleness at the end of his life.
In lieu of flowers please consider a memorial gift to The Boys and Girls Club of Buncombe County a charity close to his heart.
A visitation for the public will be conducted Monday, June 8, 2020, at 1pm with services to follow at 2pm at the First Baptist Church of Hendersonville by the Reverend Steve Scoggins. The Schmalz family welcomes all who loved him. Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, Mr. Schmalz will be interred in Hendersonville until his wish to “go home and rest in Kentucky dirt” at Evergreen Cemetery in Southgate, KY can be fulfilled.
Date: Monday, June 8, 2020
Time: 1:00 pm - 1:45 pm
Date: Monday, June 8, 2020
Time: 2:00 pm