By Jasmine Willis
DANSVILLE — Someone once said, “Grief is like the ocean. It’s deep and dark and bigger than all of us. And pain is like a thief in the night … quiet, persistent, unfair … diminished by time, faith and love.”
Edgar Schmidt, 56, of Wayland passed away at Strong Memorial Hospital on Oct. 12. The community of family, friends, moviegoers, and supporters came out to honor his memory on Oct. 19 with a military funeral. Edgar was someone’s son, brother, uncle, lover, friend, and of course our Movie Man. He was also a Marine who served his country in the 1980s.
For that reason, he was given military honors in front of his favorite place in the whole world … Star Theatre.
Since Edgar traveled the world in his amazing five decades on this earth there are many people grieving and feeling his loss. It was in his nature to welcome everyone he met into his circle of friends. If you were there to celebrate his life at Star Theatre, then you saw just how huge that circle was. His family said some beautiful words in his honor, flowers were decorating the organ, his director chair, and the front of the theater. Pastor Eric Thompson of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Dansville did the funeral service. Wayland American Legion Honor Guard did the military honors. A slideshow of his beautiful life projected on the screen while quiet music played during the calling hour
I entered his life about four years ago when I was just a new girl in town. I had taken the job at Genesee Country Express as the brand-new reporter. It was always on my mind to not only visit the local theater but do a story on it. I spent my childhood in Wellsville, and we have a small-town theater there. It reminded me of my hometown. For that reason, I was very happy to have someplace familiar to go.
Edgar and I met when I sat down on the coach inside the theater to talk to him about what made Star Theatre so special.
It didn’t take long for his passion of the place he called a second home to shine through his eyes. He loved and lived Star Theatre for 25 years, and he blessed many lives around the world.
I was touched to be part of his circle of friends from that day forward. He was one of the sweetest and kindest souls I ever had the pleasure to know.
His determination to keep the local theater alive was driven by the passion of shining his bright star in the community and beyond.
His story does not just live and breathe in Dansville or Wayland, but in parts of the world as far as we can imagine. He was an exchange student in Norway, so his host family is grieving the loss of a son and brother.
When he was in Dansville, we knew him as the Movie Man. Many were glad to get work at his beloved Star Theatre. Jennifer Howe was a long-time partner who was the love of his life. They went on many adventures about it, and would share those stories at the Dansville Rotary Club meetings.
Family was everything to Edgar, and he would share his wisdom with his siblings, nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.
I was proud to call Edgar my friend and would arrive at the movies about 15 or 20 minutes
early so we could get caught up on life. I would talk to him about my latest adventures and he would talk to me about his. He would talk about the theater, the community, and our friendship. He was always smiling and full of life.
Yes, grief is like the ocean. It is dark, deep, and bigger than all of us. For a long time, it will feel like we are all drowning in that ocean. Edgar will always be our brightest star and a beacon of hope shining his light in the middle of our town. The Star will keep shining, the community will keep grieving, and I will always miss talking to my friend 15 minutes before the latest movie starts.
Right now, all we can do is celebrate his amazing life well lived, travel and be kind as he did, and grab a box of popcorn, find a seat in the middle row, and enjoy the latest show in his favorite theater. That is how we can go on honoring and remembering Edgar Schmidt. Goodbye for now my sweet friend, we will keep the light shining for you until the very end.