6 N Main • Caldwell, KS • 620-845-6424
She was an only child who in her lifetime created 55 descendants.
When she and her soon-to-be husband sat down with the priest for their pre-nuptial meeting, she heard herself described by that priest as the “finest girl in Marshall County.”
She became equal partner in all of her husband’s farming and business ventures.
She was a wonderful pianist, but never had a lesson – playing completely by ear.
She married into a big family and immediately took on the role of historian and genealogist.
When she could no longer do anything else, she prayed continuously.
She was a child of God and eagerly hoped for a future in his Kingdom.
Delores Marie Bramlage was born on September 19, 1926 on a farm near Herkimer, KS in Marshall County, and died January 25, 2021 at the Community Health Center in Wakita, OK, a life that spanned 94 years. Her parents were Ferdinand John and Hilda Marie (Meyer) Bramlage. She grew up on a farm near Frankfort, KS and attended Allison rural school and graduated as salutatorian of the 1944 class of Frankfort High School. Her senior year, Delores and her best friend, Renee Donahy, were recruited to become teachers due to the war-time shortage. They attended Kansas State in Manhattan that summer and earned Emergency Wartime Teaching Credentials. As a result, only weeks short of her 18th birthday, Delores stepped into the classroom as a teacher at Crane School, south of Home, KS. Delores had 8 children the first year and 6 the second year in 5 different grades. She taught Mathematics, Science, English Arts, History, Geography, Penmanship, Spelling and Reading. (She was very committed to her students, and even at age 92 could recall all their names.) The following summer, she went back to Kansas State, eager to learn more. With the war having ended, her teaching career concluded in 1946 and Delores (like her counterpart “Rosie the Riveter”) turned her job over to a returning veteran.
Delores grew up in a quiet home, but loved her vivacious maiden aunt, Rose Bramlage whose 12-year friendship with Leo Schmitz eventually turned into marriage. In those years, Delores was their frequent companion. At their wedding in May 1942, Delores met Leo’s many younger brothers, including the equally intelligent, dynamic and very out-going, Adelbert. He was soon drafted to serve his country in World War II, but they began a 30-month relationship as wartime pen pals. Adelbert returned from the South Pacific Theatre and was discharged at Fort Leavenworth, KS in January 1946 and rushed to Marshall County eager to start a new life. They were married May 28, 1946 in Frankfort. She was 19 and he was 27. They immediately moved to a farm near Wakita.
As a farm wife and part of a big boisterous group in the Pete and Mary Schmitz family, she continued to thrive. They started a family, and Adelbert often said, “Boy, what a family!” They had ten children over the next 18 years. Besides farming, Adelbert augmented his income with a highly successful career as a salesman. He really found his calling as a salesman for Forney Welding Company, and Delores and the children took over some of Adelbert’s farm duties in those months when the sales incentives for being the National Salesman of the Month, provided free items the family very much desired. This was the case with the new color television in February 1959, which was soon in place in their farmhouse - one of the first in this area and when only a few programs were in color. Delores had a continuous job as the woman behind the paperwork. In 1966, Adelbert shifted his work as a welder salesman to designing and manufacturing Bullmobile stock trailers and horse trailers. This operation first occurred on the farm north of Wakita, and in 1970 was moved to Caldwell, KS through an invitation from Caldwell leaders. They continued to live on the farm until the children had all graduated from Wakita High School.
Her one activity outside the home centered in her strong religious faith as a Catholic and she was active in the Church. In 1947-48, she served as the first president of the St. Ann’s Altar Society in the newly formed parish of St. Mary Assumption in Wakita. When she and Adelbert moved to Caldwell the St. Martin’s Altar Society was her outside outlet. With her family raised, she found time for some computer and writing classes at Cowley Community College, and she continued to do the administrative end of the farm and business activities well into her 80s. But she also had more time to read and sew for fun. She loved to do embroidery and make quilts. She has left behind the legacy of many great sewing projects that will be treasured by her family for generations to come.
Delores had a great commitment to her family. She brought her aging mother to Caldwell and took care of her in her final years. When Adelbert began to struggle with dementia, she was his solitary caregiver. His passing in 2009, left a great void in her life, but she continued to be extremely interested in what was going on around her and continued to be a news junkie. Others wondered how she could avoid being depressed over the news but look at what she had lived through: the depression, the dust bowl, WWII, and the anxieties of the Cold War. She may have been the only soul in America that saw this past presidential election as having the merits of choosing between, “two really nice, intelligent gentlemen.” Through everything, Delores was still there every day praying for her children. Eventually, when the embroidery was no longer a daily interest and the book grew too heavy and the story too difficult to follow, prayer became her only occupation. She prayed her rosary over and over every day while spending 22 days in the Caldwell Hospital in December with pneumonia – which she beat. Then, she returned there in January for 15 days with the coronavirus – which she also beat with the careful attention of the doctor and nurses in Caldwell. She transferred to the health center in Wakita with a hope that she could come home after a few weeks of rehab, but this was not God’s plan. She passed away after only 4 days there in the safe and loving care of an exceptional health facility.
Over the years, Delores saw the passing of her beloved partner and spouse of 63 years, Adelbert John “A. J.” Schmitz, her parents, and most of her brothers- and sisters-in-law. The family also lost one great-grandchild, Mary Joanna Bernadette Jones, our family’s little saint in heaven. Delores is survived by her ten children and their families: her son James and wife Anita Schmitz of Oklahoma City and step-granddaughter Rachel and her son Jacob of Corpus Christi, TX; her son Ray and wife Mary Schmitz of Dallas and two granddaughters – Jennifer and husband Stan Wu and their children: Thomas, Michael, and Lauren of Houston and Allison and husband Jaime Garcia of Austin; her daughter Yvonne and husband Steve Scroggin of Dallas; her daughter Elaine and husband Marshall Martin of Renfrow and five grandchildren: Marlaina and husband Aaron Cadena and their children: John, Victoria and Thomas of Oklahoma City, Coral and husband Christian Estrada and their children Ruth and Javier of Dallas, Margaret and husband Robert Noble and their children: Zachary, Ben, Elizabeth, Will, Elaina and Claremarie of Yukon, OK, grandson Marshall and wife Iris Martin and their children: Aliya, Aeva, and Sonia of Andover, KS, and grandson Joe and wife Theresa Martin and children Caleb and Aurora Martin of Dallas; daughter Carol Schmitz of the home; son Paul Schmitz (and fiancée DeeDee Stewart of Caldwell) of the area; daughter Adele and husband Bob Healey of Chouteau, OK and six grandchildren: Kayla and husband Jeremy Jones and their children: Gemma Rose, Mary Agnes, and Lucy of Indianapolis, Lisa and husband Sam Korbe and their children: Sam, Benny, Joey, Catherine and Margaret (with one on the way) of Tulsa, Father Robert Healey of Broken Arrow, OK, Sister Ioanna Marie of the Cross of the Daughters of St. Elias (Carmelite) of Cincinnati, 2Lt. Jonathan and wife Rebecca Healey (also with a baby on the way) of Vance Air Base in Enid, and Tim Healey of Chouteau; son Leo Schmitz (and fiancée Karen Harrelson of Wichita) of the area; son John and wife Collins Schmitz and their six children: Alex, Megan, Ben and Emily Grover along with David and Joseph Schmitz of Omaha; and son A. J. and wife Jill Schmitz and their children: Jordan and Joni of Wichita. She is also survived by brother- and sister-in-law, Don and Dorothy Schmitz of Caldwell; five first cousins and numerous Schmitz (Drouhard and Conrady) nieces and nephews.
The rosary for Delores will occur at 7:00 pm, Friday night, January 29 at St. Martin’s Catholic Church in Caldwell. The A sacred Mass of Christian Burial will be held Saturday, January 30 at 10:30 am with burial to follow in the Calvary Cemetery, north of Medford, OK.
Events at St. Martin’s will be livestreamed at www.stmartincaldwell.org – use the link identified for Sunday mass.
Visitation will be held 8-5 Wednesday – Friday.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in her name to St. Martin’s Church or the Caldwell Historical Society and sent in care of the mortuary.