Jo Schmidt was born Georgian Ileen Dreher on May 16, 1917. She started her career in television in November 1955, previously working as the office manager of an advertising agency. Jo started her new position at local station WLWC Channel 4 – Columbus, Ohio. The moment she walked through the station doors she was “certain she made the right choice.” On reflecting over her life’s journey, she realized that the she had made “the perfect choice.”
Jo was invited by a co-worker at Channel 4 to join the local speaking group, Toastmasters International, where she was first exposed to the workings of parliamentary law. At Channel 4, she became involved in the TV Academy and chartering what would become the Ohio Valley Chapter of NATAS. Jo became President and then Trustee of the chapter in 1968, serving until 1970.As Trustee, Jo was the first person in television outside the industry centers of Hollywood and New York to be elected to the Board of Trustees of the TV Academy.
She was elected Secretary of the Board of Trustees in 1970 for two, two-year terms. In 1974, Jo became their registered National Parliamentarian and was instrumental in creating a new Constitution for NATAS, after the break from ATAS in 1976. Jo worked professionally for 27 years in the Ohio Valley television market, and in 1982 was recognized with the Ohio Valley Chapter’s Board of Governors’ Award.
In 2006, Jo was inducted into the Gold Circle honor society, which honors 50 years of service and leadership in the television industry and community; and in June 2012 she received the Chairman’s Award, from NATAS Chairman, Mal Wienges.
For over 30 distinguished years, Jo served as the Parliamentarian of NATAS. She initially served from 1974 to 1999, officially retiring from her position in 1999. However, when the Board needed to update their bylaws, Jo was convinced to leave retirement, and she served NATAS again as Parliamentarian from 2002 to 2011.
While Jo’s greatest professional interest was parliamentary procedure, she also had the hobby of collecting bells. She built a very large and extensive collection, which rang the unique sounds from different parts of the world.
In 1995 she met Mel Gravely at a local gathering of parliamentary professionals. At the time, Jo was a leader in the National Association of Parliamentarians. Mel and a group of students were seeking a greater depth of knowledge and asked for her assistance. She reviewed with each of them Robert’s Rules of Order tutoring them, chapter by chapter as they stopped by after work for lessons at her home. Finally, she administered the five-part Professional Registered Parliamentarian certification exam. Mel, one of her star pupils, grew to become her successor and the current Parliamentarian of NATAS.
Jo passed on Feb. 21, at the age of 95. She was preceded in death by her husband James A. and daughter Barbara Loudermilk; and is survived by her children, James and Martha of Dayton, Ohio, Jon and Dana of Wenatchee, Washington; Deborah and Ronald Gutzwiller of Mason, Ohio; nine grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren; ten great-great-grandchildren; and brothers, George and Okie Dreher of Hillsboro, Ohio.
She is remembered by NATAS for her guidance, leadership, thoughtfulness, tact, and grace in the arena of organizational governance.
To our beloved Jo Schmidt: “Blessed Be.