Paul E. Schmidt, AKA "The Movie Guy," of 85 Pleasantview Drive, Jamestown, N.Y., breathed his last at 12:02 p.m. Sunday, June 1, 2014. Those who had the good fortune to know him well realized that he faced each day of his eight-year battle with prostate cancer with a courage and grace which grew from his deep faith in the restora-tive love of God. He was an active member of First Presbyterian Church for 40 years, singing in the choir, and serving on Session for many terms. His most involving committees were building and grounds and personnel, though his greatest love was worship and music.
He was raised Lutheran and was following a pretheological program after high school intending a career as a pastor when he discovered that he was on the fast track to becoming a father. Needing a more im-mediate method of supporting his family he transferred his credits from Concordia, Bronxville, N.Y., to SUNY Fredonia and earned his Bachelor of Science in education in 1964. He accepted a posi-tion in the social studies department at Jamestown High School in the fall of 1965 and enjoyed a 26-year tenure there.
Paul was born Feb. 19, 1942, in Millard Fillmore Hospital, Buffalo, N.Y., the son of the late Robert P. and Jessamine L. Schmidt. The family moved to Mayville, N.Y., in 1947. Paul graduated from Mayville Central School in 1959, and married his high school sweetheart, Merrillie Hut-tenbacher on June 16, 1962, at St. Mark Lutheran Church in Mayville. They have two sons: Andrew Edward Schmidt of Jamestown, and William Paul Schmidt of San Francisco, Calif.; and two grandsons: Griffin Lee Schmidt and Kevin Lee Schmidt of San Francisco.
In 1956, when Paul was 14, his father bought the Cinema on the Chautauqua Institution grounds. Paul became his Dad's full-time projectionist that year and spent every summer of his life for the next 52 years presenting movies in that facility. After his father's death in 1985, he purchased the business from his mother and gave it the name Uniplex Cinemas Inc. This moniker reflected his sense of humor since he was operating at the same time that the many-screen multiplex theaters were coming into their own.
Paul grew his little business by gradually adding film series in the single screen restored theaters of the area, the first being Movies at the Center at the Reg Lenna Civic Center in Jamestown N.Y., Library Theater Films in Warren, Pa., and the Fredonia Opera House Cinema Series in Fredonia, N.Y., soon followed. In 2003, he realized a lifelong dream and opened the Bradford Movie House in Bradford, Pa., which was a full-time, all year, two-screen, first run theater. Though successful he soon discovered that his passion was presenting movies, not business, par-ticularly films which depicted relationships and growth in grace and understanding of the human condition. At the time of his diagnosis in 2006, he real-ized that he needed an exit strategy and spun off the film series in Fredonia, Jamestown, Warren, and Bradford, retaining only the Cinema at Chautauqua. To his great joy, his son William purchased this from him in 2008 keeping the little theater in the family for a third generation.
Paul began the third phase of his life as a truly retired person and pursued with gusto his lifelong hobby of HO scale trains. He found great satisfaction in all aspects of this hobby. He spent many hours engrossed in researching, building and operating his empire. He wrote a detailed fictional account explaining the origin of his railroad and was fanatically accurate to the era, circa 1958, in which it was set. He joined the Independent Railroaders Club and greatly enjoyed hosting many operating sessions in which the running of the trains modeled the actual railroad business of that time delivering passengers and freight from town to town and factory to destination.
Paul was influential in the forming of Chautauqua Chamber Singers in 1978 and sang with them for 20 years from 1978-98, retiring only when his profound hearing loss prevented him from participating fully in the camaraderie of rehearsing and performing music.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 52 years, Merrillie; their son, Andrew and his wife, Mary of Jamestown, N.Y., and their son, William, his wife, Kelly and their sons: Griffin and Kevin of San Francisco Calif.; and two sisters: Carol Ketelsen of Kent, Ohio and Beverly Schmidt of Brocton, N.Y.
A service celebrating Paul's life will be held on Saturday, June 7, in the sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church at 2 p.m. The Rev. Don Ray and the Rev. Bob Hagel will officiate. Friends will be received from 2-4 p.m. and 7 -9 p.m. on Friday, June 6, 2014, at the Lind Funeral Home. Burial will be in Mayville Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to the Music Ministry of First Presbyterian Church, 509 Prendergast Ave., Jamestown, NY 14701.
You may light a candle in remembrance of Paul at www.lindfuneralhome.com.