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Robert E. Schmidt

Robert E. SchmidtBorn: June 20, 1927, LaCrosse, Rush County, Kansas. Married: Patricia Ann Everton, 1949. Died: August 8, 20017, Hays, Ellis County, Kansas.

Robert E. Schmidt was born to Andrew and Mary E. Schmidt in LaCrosse, Kansas, on June 20, 1927. He attended local schools and left during high school to join the U.S. Navy during World War II. He served in the Philippines from 1945 to 1946. He married Patricia Ann Everton in 1949.

When his military served was finished, Schmidt attended Fort Hays State University. There Bob began a career as a radio sportscaster. After he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1950, he was appointed general manager of KAYS Radio in Hays, partnering with Ross Beach.

Schmidt was elected vice president and director of KAYS, Inc., which became Eagle Communications. In 1989 he purchased control of the corporation and became president and CEO. Under his leadership the company grew to include 24 radio and television stations, plus 12 cable systems in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Texas. He retired from Eagle Communications in 1998 allowing the organization to become an employee-owned company, which continues to grow. By 2016 the company had 28 broadcast stations and 60 cable systems serving communities in the plains states with broadband, video, and telephone services. Schmidt continued to be involved in real estate development, oil and gas development, banking, and managing Sweetwater Ranch near Hays.

He served as chair of state and national associations including the CBS Television Network Affiliates Association, National Associated Press Broadcasters, Kansas Association of Broadcasters, and Kansas State Chamber of Commerce. He was inducted into the Kansas Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2000. The Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development honored him as Community Leader of the Year for Radio in 2013.

He served as president of the Robert E. and Patricia Schmidt Foundation, which supports projects in Ellis County that include arts and culture and education.  He died on August 8, 2017, in Hays, Kansas.

Entry: Schmidt, Robert E.

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: December 2016

Date Modified: September 2018

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.