ST. PETERSBURG — Jerry Schmid took his share of risks, especially when he co-founded a construction company with $10,000 he had saved. As the number and size of his projects grew over the next 35 years, he developed a reputation for prudence.
Many of the public and privately funded structures he built or restored define St. Petersburg, such as two new recreation centers, St. Petersburg Fire Department headquarters and the historic preservation of the downtown First Baptist Church edifice and the Manhattan Casino.
His company, Angle and Schmid, surged in the construction boom of the 1980s and held on in lean years without borrowing money. Eventually, Mr. Schmid let himself play a little. He collected hundreds of vintage toy trucks, cranes and bulldozers made between the 1920s and the 1960s, scouring trade shows across the country. Taken together, they rivaled the value of his other toy, a red Ferrari.
Mr. Schmid died Oct. 4 of cancer. He was 73.
"We weren't the gold-chain, pinkie-ring contractors," said Bob Angle, 68. "We knew what we wanted."
The two men met in the 1970s while working at another St. Petersburg construction company, forming Angle and Schmid in 1977. Their skills meshed. Angle, who had built high-rises in Atlanta, focused on the structures while Mr. Schmid served as estimator and project manager.
In the 1980s, the men accepted an award from first lady Nancy Reagan in the White House for their work in the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve.
Over the years, bond limits backing their work rose from $500,000 to $48 million, Angle said. The company built Roberts and Wildwood recreation centers; remodeled the Jannus Landing block; and handled a $28 million renovation at 3201 34th St. S, as the former Florida Power headquarters made way for what is now the Ceridian building.
The business partners brought their families to Buccaneers, Rays and Lightning games.
"We saw hell freeze over twice," Angle said, referring to the Bucs' Super Bowl win and the Lightning capturing the Stanley Cup.
Mr. Schmid started collecting antique industrial replicas about 25 years ago. "Why does somebody collect art?" Angle said. "It was pleasant. It brought him back to his childhood."
Gerard Russell Schmid was born in Newark, N.J., in 1939, and majored in engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. He married Debby Konczal in 1978.
Doctors diagnosed him with lung cancer about a year ago. Mr. Schmid told almost no one. Efforts to keep the cancer at bay proved unsuccessful. Mourners packed St. Paul Catholic Church for his service Wednesday, from family members to fellow Buccaneers fans who had sat near him at games.
Andrew Meacham can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2248.