After a brief illness, Jeanne Ethelwyn Katherine Boland Schmidt died on March 29, 2021 at Hospice by the Sea in Boca Raton, Fla. Her death was confirmed by her daughter Kimberly. She was 95.
Because of pandemic-related difficulties in coordinating memorial arrangements, which had been planned for the one-year anniversary of her death, the report of her death was delayed until now.
Born in Chicago on Feb. 16, 1926, the youngest of four children of Dr. John E. Boland and Ethel Johnson Boland, Jeanne was raised in a rowdy Irish Catholic family. After 12 years at a Catholic convent school, she studied acting at Northwestern University, where she pledged the Tri Delta sorority. She graduated in 1948.
Among her friends and classmates were Paul Lynde, Charlotte Rae, and Cloris Leachman. A young Sheldon Harnick wrote her a solo song to perform in the big Waa-Mu musical revue on the Northwestern campus. After graduation, she moved to New York where she acted in numerous early television dramas and soap operas.
She married John G. Flack of Bronxville, N.Y. in 1951. Her acting career was put on hold after she was dismissed from a set by the director for “not holding her stomach in.” She was five months pregnant at the time. Divorced with three daughters under five years old to support, Jeanne returned to acting in soap operas, including The Edge of Night.
Her marriage to Roger Schmidt in 1961 brought three stepsons and, two years later, a new son. When the family moved from Connecticut back to New York City, Jeanne worked for Mayor Ed Koch in Gracie Mansion as an event planner. Subsequently, she opened a successful art gallery in Easthampton that featured local artists. Her gallery organized benefits for artists with AIDS in the early days of the epidemic.
She and Roger traveled widely over the many years of their marriage, including 10 years living in Hawaii, where she supplemented the family income by making commercials. She also swam a half mile in the ocean daily and played tennis well into her 70s.
Jeanne was active, courageous, and lucky. She survived the crash of a commercial jetliner in the Caribbean in 1970, and less than a year later she flew to Africa, with help from her purse-sized vodka nips. She went to Haiti as a volunteer with a medical mission when she was 75.
Because she “wanted another chapter,” she moved to Provincetown when she was 84. She loved the sea, art, and gay men, who were often her closest friends since college days. Her glamor and sarcastic wit were welcomed in Provincetown.
Jeanne volunteered at PAAM, the Tennessee Williams Festival, and the Provincetown Book Festival. She joined St. Mary of the Harbor, where she found a beloved community. She quickly learned to join the locals down at Herring Cove, where she loved watching the sun set over the sea.
Jeannie surrounded herself with beauty everywhere she lived. She adored fresh flowers and curated the art on the walls of her home like the gallerist she was. And she walked daily, always taking time to curate her appearance.
She was truly happy on the Outer Cape and longed for it after cold winters drove her to Florida.
On a sunny day last October, after a sunrise vigil at Captain Jack’s with a small circle of family and friends and many words both reverent and irreverent, Jeanne’s ashes were sailed out to the accompaniment of a New Orleans jazz funeral saxophone and scattered where she wanted to be, off the tip of Long Point, where the great spiral of Cape Cod seems to both begin and end. Seals accompanied the group on their return. Then, at sunset, lit paper lanterns were sent skyward from Herring Cove.
She is survived by her daughters, Kimberly Duir of Berkeley and Provincetown, Carey Morning of Edinburgh, Scotland, and Laurel Davis of Charlottesville, Va.; her son, Bradford Schmidt of Jupiter, Fla.; her stepson, Peter Schmidt of Alexandria, Va.; and her grandchildren, Carl and Eric Schmidt, Sophia Davis, Robert Barnes, Irina Prussin, Anya Prussin, Nina Rose Schmidt, Emma Schmidt, Desmond Schmidt, Jack Morning-Newton, and Amos Morning-Newton.
Jeanne was predeceased by her sisters, Marilyn Halligan and Shirley Higgins, and her brother, John E. Boland.