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Lansing bids goodbye to long time city leader and advocate Alfreda Schmidt

Alfreda Schmidt
Andy Schor
Alfreda Schmidt

Lansing is honoring the life and legacy of former city councilmember Alfreda Schmidt who died at 97-years-old.

Schmidt served on the Lansing City Council for more than a decade representing the city’s southside. She also served one four-year term as an Ingham County Commissioner representing the Republican party.

She’s credited with leading several community projects including the creation of the Hawk Island playground, which raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and mobilized thousands of volunteers.

Alfreda Schmidt and Lansing Mayor Andy Schor
City of Lansing
Scott Bean
Alfreda Schmidt

Former city councilmember Carol Wood first met Schmidt more than thirty years ago as a constituent who approached her during a council meeting.

“I went to the meeting with my mother over an issue that we were dealing with in our neighborhood,” Wood explained.

She said Schmidt listened to her family with intent, a type of attention that was typical for how she treated all her constituents.

“She made time for people, no matter where she was. Whether she was coming out of church or whether she was sitting up on the podium at a council meeting or whether she was in the grocery store,” Wood said.

Wherever Schmidt went, she was likely wearing one of her iconic hats. Wood says to many, she was known as the “woman of 100 hats.”

“Wherever she was, she came dressed to the nines and was there to represent the community,” Wood added.

Schmidt’s contributions to the community have been honored by Lansing’s civic leaders.

The Alfreda Schmidt Community Center in Lansing’s southside proudly bears her name, Wood explained, as a testament to her unwavering dedication to the city.

“For years, there was not a community center on the southside of Lansing and she knew the importance of what community centers meant to the area and she worked diligently and was not willing to give up on that dream,” Wood said.

Schmidt's advocacy often made her a go-to figure for those considering a run for office, including for current Lansing Mayor Andy Schor.

“I remember when I won my first re-election in 2014 and I sat with her and asked her what I was doing right and wrong,” said Schor. “She told me I was doing a great job, which at 28-years-old was an honor to hear.”

Despite retiring, Schmidt rarely missed an important city event. For her, it was an opportunity to keep abreast of what was happening in Lansing.

“She was so proud of her city, and she was so proud to be a part of it,” Schor added. “She'd be everywhere.”

Schor’s favorite memory of the late councilmember was during the inauguration of a city playground last year, when the nonagenarian tried to climb a play structure.

“She really thought she was going to climb that netting and it showed her young at heart,” Schor said. “She was so excited to see the kids playing and it was just so much fun.”

Up until her death, Schmidt continued to volunteer in Lansing including serving on the Mayor’s Veterans Commission.

Schmidt died Sunday from complications of a stroke. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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