July 22, 1956 – April 20, 2019
Our friend, Cheryl Marie Schmidt passed away on April 20, 2019, from lung cancer. She fought it with her usual strength and cheerfulness. Those close to her know it was the way she also lived her life. Cheryl told us that her long ago gone and beloved Paint mare, Felicia, was coming for her at the end of her life so she could go to heaven on horseback. We believe that to be true.
Cheryl was born July 22, 1956, in Bakersfield, California, the daughter of Forest and Jean Schmidt. She had two brothers, Michael and Wayne. Cheryl grew up on the family ranch in Paso Robles, breeding and showing Paint horses and mules with her father. Her last ride was her good mule Buford. The two recently spent most of this winter riding trails in California and Arizona, a special dream.
Cheryl transferred to Helena in June 1992 from Chicago and continued working for Tetra Tech. She quickly became active in Helena’s horse community and was fast friends with local businessman and horseman, John Larock. That friendship led her on to becoming an enthusiastic member of Helena Trail Riders, Equine Expo, LEGS Livestock Rescue, and the active horse camping and trail riding group, The Wild Bunch.
Cheryl was always ready for a laugh and, as she called it, sharing a “big windie” around the campfire. We had a lot of fun with Cheryl over the years and also appreciated her horsemanship and willingness to share that knowledge. She gave riding lessons to local youth and was always the first one to step up to help with horse problems or with breaking a colt. She’d get on any horse if it would help the animal become happy and useful to its owner. There are very few of her horse friends who didn’t benefit from Cheryl’s advise.
Oh, yes. She was always a good planner of pranks and jokes. Once, along with three of her best friends; Mayor at the time, Kay Mckenna; and the Helena Police Department, Cheryl managed a surprising “arrest” of the Stampede Committee’s tour train holdup outlaws in front of First Bank at High Noon during Stampede Week. Were they ever surprised! And, the Helena Trail Riders Men-Only Camping Weekend up Avalanche Gulch will never forget that morning when they woke up and found their horses decorated with neon paint, colored ribbons and gobs of glitter from the silent night visitors to their camp!
Cheryl had many friends and there will be a memorial remembrance of her life at a later date this summer. We look forward to celebrating her wonderful life with you. Please make your remembrance donations to Montana Horse Sanctuary in Simms or any Humane Society of your choice.