Be the Change in honour of Erich, Ursula and Mary Schmidt Fund

The Winnipeg Foundation


Rotary Adventures in Human Rights
Rotary Adventures in Human Rights program. Photo courtesy of Rotary Peace Fellow Alumni.

As a teenager in Germany during the Second World War, Erich Schmidt lived through the darkest period of the 20th century. Thanks to the strong role model provided by the grandfather who raised him, Mr. Schmidt rose out of an environment of war and atrocity and built his life around caring for others, hard work and gratitude.

Mr. Schmidt and his wife Ursula settled in Winnipeg, where Mr. Schmidt thrived as an entrepreneur. His dedication to customer service and respect earned him loyal clients and colleagues; many became lifelong friends. The couple had a daughter, Mary, and when she developed a disability, they were determined to care for her in the family home. They shared many happy, loving years together. In 2013, within six months of one another, Ursula and Mary passed away.

Mr. Schmidt passed away in July, 2015, shortly after the Be the Change in honour of Erich, Ursula and Mary Schmidt Fund was established at The Winnipeg Foundation.

The first grant from the fund was recommended by Mr. Schmidt’s long-time friend. It supported a day of hands-on human rights education for high school students last August, part of an intensive program through Rotary World Peace Partners. The transformative session helped young people build bridges between communities and cultures.

The project was a perfect tribute to Mr. Schmidt – a man who showed deep respect for everyone he encountered and gratitude for everything he had.