Harold “Harry” Schmertmann, Venice, Fla., passed away Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, at the age of 78 after a long battle with prostate cancer.
Harry was born March 28, 1935, in the Bronx, N.Y., son of Johannes and Margaret Schmertmann. He grew up in the area of Westchester County, N.Y. He was in the U.S. Air Force from 1953 to 1957.
Upon release from the Air Force, he completed a bachelor’s degree in geography in 1961 and a master’s degree in geography in 1962 from Florida State University. During his summer breaks from college, he worked as a patrolman with the Westchester County Parkway Police.
After college, Harry worked as a city planner, a bank appraiser and loan officer, and as a real estate broker. He was Bureau Chief of Local Assistance with the Florida Department of Community Affairs from 1967 to 76 and was the first state coordinator of the National Flood Insurance Program. He retired from the Florida Department of Community Affairs as a regional planner for Sarasota and Charlotte counties in 1997.
He and his wife, Gloria, moved to Sarasota County in 1997, where he enjoyed his favorite hobbies of golf, fishing and boating. He was active in his community by serving on the city of North Port’s Planning Advisory Board, including a term as chairman, and the board of the Linkside Condominium Association. He also volunteered as a driver with F.I.S.H. (Friends in Service Here) and as a driver with Meals on Wheels.
He was a member of Christ United Methodist Church in Venice, the Sierra Club and the Nature Conservancy and a “fanatic” alumnus of Florida State University.
Survivors include his wife, Gloria (Bowen) Schmertmann, of Venice, Fla.; a son, Greg Schmertmann, of North Port, Fla.; a daughter, Kerry Baker, and son-in-law, Greg Baker, of Sarasota, Fla.; a brother, Dr. John Schmertmann, and sister-in-law, Pauline Schmertmann, of Gainesville, Fla.; brother-in-law and sister-in-law Dawson and Debra Leggett, of Tallahassee, Fla.; brother-in-law and sister-in-law Robert(Marshall) and Judy Bowen, of Rotonda West, Fla.; one niece; and five nephews.
Services: A private family memorial service will be held at Sarasota National Cemetery. Services at Christ United Methodist Church, Center Road, Venice, Fla., will be announced at a later date. Arrangements are by the Sarasota National Cremation Society.
Contributions: In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Salvation Army, which helped Harry, age 4, and his mother, who were visiting relatives, obtain ship passage to escape Germany when Hitler invaded Poland in September 1939. The ship, the SS Scanyork, was the last ship allowed to leave the harbor, which had already been mined. Harry became a lifetime supporter and Christmas bell-ringer for the Salvation Army.