Death Claims John Schmitz, 96, Local Banker
Long Career in Banking Spanned Fifty-Four Years;
Came to Baker in 1889
Baker City’s oldest banking figure, John Schmitz, 96, died Wednesday at his home. He had been in failing health for sometime but had remained interested in current events until his death.
Mr. Schmitz was born in Communia, Iowa, March 31, 1865, the son of Gearhardt and Elizabeth Schmitz. He came west to Pendleton in 1887 and on to Baker in 1889.
He was a member of the Elks Lodge and had always taken an interest in civic affairs.
He was first married to Johanna Watterman who died Dec. 4, 1944. In 1947 he was married in La Grande to Leona Hyatt who died Feb. 22, 1957.
Funeral services will be conducted at 2:00 p.m. Friday from the West and Company chapel. The Rev. Tom Foster of North Powder will officiate, Baker Lodge No. 338 B.P.O.E. will have charge of graveside rites at Mt. Hope cemetery where internment will be made.
Mr. Schmitz had a long career in Baker, coming her from Pendleton about 1889. He went into business with John Watterman and remained partners until 1905 when Mr. Schmitz started his long banking career.
Mr. Schmitz with other local men promoted and organized the Baker Loan and Trust Company. William Pollman was the president and Mr. Schmitz was vice president. After the death of Mr. Pollman in 1930, he acted as president until April 30, 1932 when First National of Baker, the Citizens National bank and Baker Loan and Trust merged and acted as president of First National until 1934. He served as a director of the First National Bank until March 14, 1959, when First National merged with the United States National Bank.
Mr. Schmitz became vice-president of the old Baker State Bank of Haines moved to Baker in April of 1936 and was a director of that institution until its merger with the First National Bank of Oregon March 19, 1959.
He is survived by nieces, Josie Brown, Doris Pryce, both of Baker; Anna Margaret Ramsey, Medford; Alma Papas, Minneapolis; Marie Thomas, Mason City, Iowa; one nephew, Elmer Brown, Baker; one step-daughter, Francis Craver of St. Helens.
Contributed by: Gary Jaensch