You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

After unexpected death, family remembers woman's abundant kindness and donates 2,400 turkeys to Hunger Task Force

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel logo Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 12/2/2019 Sophie Carson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
a person posing for the camera: Tracey Schmidt is seen in an undated photo. She died unexpectedly at age 55 from a brain aneurysm. © Courtesy of Jaimee Niles Tracey Schmidt is seen in an undated photo. She died unexpectedly at age 55 from a brain aneurysm.

Tracey Schmidt was that chatty lady who sat in the train car seats that faced each other.

She loved striking up conversations with strangers. But Tracey didn’t simply make friends, her family said — she saw people, invisible people ignored in the world, and she loved them deeply.

Tracey, a Chicago native, was beautiful and selfless and brought laughter everywhere she went, her sister Jaimee Niles said. Her far-reaching kindness was one-of-a-kind.

Get daily updates on the Packers during the season.

In the wake of her sudden death at age 55 from a brain aneurysm in August, the family has been plunged into “total darkness,” her mother, Nancy Schmidt, said. 

As Thanksgiving approached this year, the family had been looking for a way to carry on her legacy. Tracey helped so many people in her life, from the stray dogs she brought home as a kid to the out-of-work people she helped find a job in adulthood. 

The family was inspired by the Thanksgiving dinners Tracey used to hold for the homeless people she’d befriended. She’d set everything up in her Chicago apartment building’s common room, and she’d ask her neighbors to use their ovens. She usually cooked six turkeys to feed everyone.

So the family gathered Nov. 25 in Milwaukee — where they have roots — to deliver Thanksgiving food to those in need with the Hunger Task Force food bank. They raised enough money to donate 2,400 turkeys to the cause, a fundraiser said.

“There’s no heroism; it’s just Tracey,” Niles said about their efforts.

a group of people standing outside of a building: Members of Tracey Schmidt's family help load boxes of turkeys into a van, which the Hunger Task Force delivered to families in need around Milwaukee. The family raised enough money to donate 2,400 turkeys to the cause. © Courtesy of Jaimee Niles Members of Tracey Schmidt's family help load boxes of turkeys into a van, which the Hunger Task Force delivered to families in need around Milwaukee. The family raised enough money to donate 2,400 turkeys to the cause.

“It’s just Tracey” is what the family often thought when she’d stop to help an elderly lady find her car in a parking lot, or when she’d take yet another person in need under her wing, Niles said. 

“There was always somebody new that she’d just met who all of a sudden was coming over for dinner, or needed help,” Niles said. “There was no judgment for her. There was never an ounce of judgment.”

Nancy Schmidt remembers once her daughter detected the emotions of a woman sitting across from them in the doctor’s office waiting room.

“She said, ‘Mom, that lady needs a hug.’ She got up, went over and said, ‘Do you need a hug?’ and this woman stood up, broke into tears, and hugged Tracey,” Nancy Schmidt said. “I would never in a million years have noticed that.”

a group of people posing for a photo: Hunger Task Force Executive Director Sherrie Tussler, fourth from the left, poses for a photo with Jaimee Niles, center, and family after they helped deliver turkeys across Milwaukee ahead of Thanksgiving. © Courtesy of Jaimee Niles Hunger Task Force Executive Director Sherrie Tussler, fourth from the left, poses for a photo with Jaimee Niles, center, and family after they helped deliver turkeys across Milwaukee ahead of Thanksgiving.

Tracey worked in marketing and sales and lived in Orlando, Atlanta and the Chicago area in her adult life. She never married or had children. No matter where she was or who she was with, though, she shared laughter and compassion, her family said.

“In a digital age, it’s just so unique to find somebody who looks up from their smartphone and really cares. Because most people are avoiding interaction with other humans,” Niles said. “She intentionally was the opposite.”

The family remembered Tracey’s kindness on Thanksgiving, but her generosity was year-round, Niles said.

“Small acts of kindness can be a way of life,” Niles wrote in an email. “Tracey knew that and she reminds us of that today and every day.”

Contact Sophie Carson at (414) 223-5512 or scarson@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter at @SCarson_News.

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: After unexpected death, family remembers woman's abundant kindness and donates 2,400 turkeys to Hunger Task Force

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon