Passed Away On: March 8, 2021

The family of Meredith Hallenbeck Schmidt is sad to share the passing of their beloved mother, grandmother and friend to all on March 8, 2021 at the age of 93, after a brief illness.

Meredith was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan on January 12, 1928. She had a great childhood and many cherished memories of that time, including walks to her grandparents’ house for her favorite sauerkraut and her 90-year friendship with her childhood friend Anita Stull. Meredith’s father Kenneth Hallenbeck was a colonel in the Army reserves (and later retired as a Brigadier General) and was called to active duty preceding WWII, first moving the family to Louisiana and then to California. She often shared stories of how the family would have to black out windows facing the ocean in her first house in her adopted state, as well as stories of rationing during the war.

When her father was transferred again back to Michigan, Meredith had put down enough roots in California that she decided to stay, spending her last year of high school with her best friend Nadine Rice and the Rice family in Santa Clara. The all-girl family became lifelong friends of Meredith. Her beloved stepbrother Carl Watkins took leave from the army to attend her high school graduation, the only family member to be able to do so. Meredith later lived with Carl and his wife as she went to college at San Jose State University.

When she finished college, Meredith made the fateful decision to work at the then-new Ames Aeronautical Laboratory, part of the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NASA’s predecessor), as a secretary. Her uncommon organizational skills made her invaluable to the new research organization. It didn’t take long for her to notice a cute young engineer named Stanley Schmidt – and for him to notice her. They were married on February 5, 1949. Meredith quickly adopted Stan’s family as her own and became part of the “crew” at the Schmidt family ranch, helping with cattle and all manner of projects. The family ranch was a dear part of the rest of her life. They built their Los Altos home in 1952 and lived there the rest of their lives.

Meredith and Stan loved to take trips, particularly in their Jaguar XK140. After some fun years with just the two of them, they decided to have a family. Their son Greg was born in 1959, followed by son Rick in 1962 and daughter Janis in 1964. Meredith’s life was full as a mother – she was involved in all of her kids’ activities through college and always took exceptional interest in her kids and their friends. She even went so far as to attend a Rolling Stones concert with her kids, and loved it! The family made regular trips to the ranch, a great experience for her children.

When her kids met the loves of their lives, Meredith welcomed each of them – Cindy, Stacey and Dave – as her own kids.  And then, perhaps later in life than most grandparents, she and Stan welcomed their grandchildren Claire, Laurel, Bella, Jack and Natalie and was every bit as much of a doting grandmother as the doting mother she’d been a generation earlier. It was always a treat for the grandchildren to visit grandma and grandpa’s house. She was also a particular fan of pugs – the family got their first pug Bugsy in 1968 and each of them was loved by Meredith.

Since she was a girl and had seen her own grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary, Meredith had looked forward to celebrating this important milestone in her own life. She and Stan celebrated this event with many friends and family – and with a one month old Claire as their first grandchild, just in the nick of time!

Meredith continued her love of travel in her later years with trips to Europe and Alaska with Stan, and drove to Alaska with son Greg to see Rick. She did many trips with Janis including to Canada, and enjoyed them all.

Meredith was a very socially conscious person, instilling the values of respect – for all other people and for our environment – in her kids. She was amongst the earliest adopters of recycling back in the early 1970s, and was a staunch supporter of those who hadn’t had the chances she’d had in life. Amongst the many gifts she gave her children, this is amongst the most important.

Meredith lost Stan in 2015, after 66 years of marriage. She never gave up her independence afterwards and lived in the house they built together the rest of her days. Her family was lucky that she was sharp until the very end, and was able to pass away at home surrounded by those who love her so much.

Meredith was a great listener and made friends easily, far and wide. She was a second Mom to many. She brought her great sense of humor to everyone, and always had a twinkle in her eye. It was always clear how much family meant to her from the love she shared freely, and she remained connected through daily phone calls from each of her kids and many others.

Meredith is survived by her sons Greg (Cindy), Eric “Rick” (Stacey Swenson) and Janis (Dave Pariseau), and her grandchildren Claire, Laurel, Bella, Jack and Natalie, as well as her brother Ken Hallenbeck (June) in Colorado Springs, and his extended family. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to one of her favorite charities: Pug Rescue of California, Canine Companions for Independence, or Second Harvest Food Bank. Due to the pandemic, a memorial will be held at a later date.