Founding Member of Chapter &
Long-Time National Parliamentarian Passes Away
Jo Schmidt was born Georgian Ileen Dreher on May 16, 1917. After working as the office manager of an advertising agency, Jo started her career in television in November 1955 at WLWC (now WCMH) in Columbus, Ohio. The moment she walked through the station doors she was “certain she made the right 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 with the Television Academy and was instrumental in chartering the Columbus Chapter of NATAS in 1962. The Chapter would later expand to include Dayton and Cincinnati becoming the only chapter in the country to have a 3-city charter. In 1994, the chapter was renamed the Ohio Valley Chapter. Jo was there to provide guidance every step of the way.
Jo served as President and Trustee of the chapter from 1968 to 1970. As Trustee, she 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 Academy.
She was elected Secretary of the National Board of Trustees in 1970, and in 1974 was appointed to Parliamentarian by NATAS President, John Cannon, and was instrumental in creating a new Constitution for NATAS, after the break from ATAS in Los Angeles.
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 National Chairman’s Award, an Emmy®, from NATAS Chairman, Mal Wienges in recognition of her long-time service to the Television Academy.
For over 30 years Jo served as the Parliamentarian of NATAS. She served two distinguished terms. She initially served from 1974 to 1999, officially retiring from her position at the end of her term. However, she 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.
Jo passed on February 21, 2013 at age of 95. She is preceded in death by her husband James A. and daughter Barbara Loudermilk. 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 brother, 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 many who have served as Ohio Valley Chapter Board Members over the years, Jo was a not only a mentor but also a friend.
To our beloved Jo Schmidt: “Blessed Be'”
For a warm memory of Jo, watch this video of her receiving the Chairman’s Award in June 2012.
(Video produced by Cynthia Zeiden, Trustee, San Francisco/Northern California Chapter)