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Passing of former costume design professor Inge Schmidt

January 24, 2022


Our hearts are heavy to share the news that former professor Inge Schmidt, who taught theatre and costume design for 11 years, passed away December 12. She was 89.


Born August 19, 1932, in Frankfurt, Germany, she moved with her family to the United States in the late 1930s to escape from the Holocaust. She attended grammar school in Chico and graduated from Chico High School before completing her bachelor’s degree in speech arts from Chico State in 1953, and her master’s degree in theatre and performing arts from Stanford University.


Schmidt worked at the Ashland Shakespeare Company and Toronto Shakespeare Company before joining Chico State’s Department of Speech and Drama in 1968. For many years, she taught costume design and construction, costume history, makeup, acting, and theatre history, while also supervising the Costume Shop and designing costumes for most of the theatrical productions and operas.


Former department member Gordon Jesse first met Schmidt when he was hired as a new faculty member in 1975. They worked closely together for several years.


“She was one of those rare people who was first a colleague, then became a mentor, and finally was a treasured lifelong friend,” he said. “She had a great depth of knowledge of theater and of the craft of teaching and was very willing to share both, which helped me tremendously as a new teacher.”


In 1977, Schmidt left the University and moved to San Francisco to work as a travel agent, which enabled her to indulge her love for exploring. She returned to Chico and Chico State in the late 1980s, working part-time for a few years. In 1988, she completed a bachelor’s degree in theatre arts.


Professor Emerita Madeline Keaveney recalled that even after Schmidt stopped teaching she retained her love for live and filmed theatre and opera, as well as symphonies and dance performances. She also enjoyed a good game of Scrabble and crossword puzzles of all levels of difficulty, and cared dearly for various cats that she had during her lifetime. With a deep commitment to her Jewish heritage, she was a longtime member of Congregation Beth Israel and founding member of the Congregation Sisterhood in Chico.


“She participated in our services, celebrations, and classes during her many years in Chico, even managing to conquer Zoom during the last few years so that she could continue to actively participate,” said Professor Emerita Carol Edelman, past president of the Congregation. “She consistently enhanced our gatherings with her presence, her voice, and her poetry and literature readings.”


Schmidt is survived by her sister, Beatrice; niece Cyndi; nephews Gregory, Kevin, and Matthew; great-nieces Anne and Janelle; great-nephew Klaus; great-great-nephew Sutton; and great-great-niece Audrey.


Services were conducted at Brusie Funeral Home and Congregation Beth Israel, and burial occurred at the Jewish Cemetery in Oroville on December 15. Schmidt contributed to many charities in her lifetime and would appreciate anyone so moved to make a memorial contribution to their favorite charity in remembrance of a loved one.


The University flag will be lowered Tuesday, January 25, in her memory.

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