On Friday, May 14 – a beautiful, sunny day in Cheltenham, family and friends of Lawrence (Larry) and the late Betty Ann (Smith) Schmidt gathered at Curtis Arboretum to celebrate life and love.
For those who attended, Larry Schmidt gave a short memorial speech, standing before the newly planted Greenspire Linden specimen tree at the upper lot of Curtis Arboretum. Larry met Betty Ann Smith at a birthday party at Curtis Hall in 1949. He says he fell in love at first sight, and the rest of their love story was history, with Curtis Arboretum holding a special place in their hearts.
Betty Ann passed away in January 2021, but through Cheltenham Township’s new Tree Donation program, the family was able to bring Betty Ann back to Curtis in a special way. Larry was joined by their son, Warren, with his wife Terri and sons Garrett and Aidan; daughter, Stephanie; and cousins and friends of Betty Ann. As the group gathered around the tree, Stephanie read a handwritten poem her mother left:
I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one.
I’d like to leave the afterglow of smiles when life is done.
I’d like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways –
Of happy times, laughing times, and bright & sunny days.
I’d like the tears of those who grieve to dry before the sun
Of happy memories that I leave when life here is done.
After the poem was read, Stephanie’s partner Jay dug a pocket in the fresh dirt, where Stephanie then added Betty Ann’s ashes to the tree memorial. Stephanie and Warren spoke of Betty Ann being a devoted caregiver and a woman full of life, and noted her presence in the sun’s warmth, when an earlier forecast showed such nice weather was not expected.
The Linden was Betty Ann’s favorite tree. Larry Schmidt also donated a Linden tree in his own name, so the two would be memorialized at the Arboretum together years after they’re both gone.
More information about Cheltenham’s Tree Donation program can be found at on the website at > I Want To > Donate A Tree.