Mildred Parker, Last Grandchild of Olympia Brewing Founder Leopold F. Schmidt, Dies at 103

A recent donation from the estate of a New Jersey resident has intrigued our archives staff.

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Mildred (Schmidt) Parker

In 1912, a daughter was born to Leopold F. Schmidt Jr. (son of Leopold Sr., founder of the Olympia brewery) and his wife, Louise Barksdale Schmidt. The daughter was named Mildred Virginia Schmidt, and she grew up in the family home in Olympia. Mildred died recently at the age of 103, and a box of photos from her estate arrived at our office. We’ll use several of those photos to illustrate Mildred’s life, or as much of it as we have been able to piece together. And an interesting life it was.

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Mildred looks angelic as a toddler.

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The Leo Schmidt Jr. family home at 1040 Main Street (photo courtesy Olympia Historical Society).

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In an unknown city, the Schmidt family poses for a photo circa 1922. Left to right: Louise, Mildred, father Leopold F. Schmidt Jr., and mother Louise Barksdale Schmidt.

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In June 1926, Mildred poses in an incredible peacock-feather costume she wore during a pageant at Olympia’s Lincoln School. The pageant is probably “The Good Book Pageant,” the story of a little girl who falls asleep while reading and dreams the Good Book Fairy brings storybook characters to visit her. Forty children take part in this play sponsored by the PTA.

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In 1932, Mildred moves to San Francisco to live with her sister Louise. The next year, both sisters appear in a San Francisco newspaper article as “exponents of the sun bathing suit” with proper attention given to protection from too much sun.

Panama brewery

In 1933, Mildred returns to Olympia, then moves to Butte, Montana with her parents. By mid-1935, Mildred’s parents have divorced, and her father remarries and moves to Panama to establish a brewery. Mildred accompanies him.

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In 1938, Mildred marries Jackson R. Neal, a sales representative for a movie company. She and Jack reside in Venezuela, and also in Cuba and Puerto Rico.

The next several decades of Mildred’s life are not memorialized in photos. In 1941, Mildred and Jack move to Denver. By 1944, they move to Seattle, where Jack takes a job with Warner Brothers, and is critically injured in a car accident. We assume Jack dies at this time (Mildred’s obituary states Jack dies in Cuba in 1954, but we believe the 1954 date is in error). The young widow moves to New York City to live close to her sister, and finds a job with American Cyanamid Company (a well-known chemical manufacturer). In 1951, Mildred meets and marries Whitmore Parker, an insurance agent from New York City. In 1962, the couple moves to Ridgewood, New Jersey. Whitmore dies in 1975, and Mildred retires from Cyanamid in 1977.

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After her retirement, Mildred spends much of her time visiting relatives, including her sister, shown here in 1982. Mildred also volunteers at St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church in Ridgewood, counting pennies from the children’s collection plates.

In her later life, Mildred finds herself in need of a caregiver, and spends her last years in the company of longtime friends. She dies just a few months short of her 104th birthday.

In her lifetime, Mildred lived in Seattle, Tacoma, San Francisco, Montana, New York, New Jersey, Panama, Venezuela, Cuba and Puerto Rico. Quite a résumé for a girl who started out in Olympia!

by Karen Johnson

 

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