Gregory Linn Schmidt established the Robert Lyle Schmidt Memorial Scholarship in his father’s memory to be awarded to a student from a Chicago public high school.
Robert Lyle Schmidt was born in Cicero, Illinois in 1920. With the exception of his college years and the years of World War II, he lived his entire life in the Chicago area. He was a dedicated lifelong fan of the Cubs, Bears, and Blackhawks. He received his B.S. in Chemistry in 1942 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At the start of his senior year, he earned a fellowship for graduate study at the University of North Carolina.
On December 7, 1941, those plans were changed. Immediately after graduation, he was hired to help run a new factory which produced TNT, but within a year, he enlisted in the Navy. He entered officers' training and specialized in the new technology of radar. Upon discharge from the Navy in 1946, he returned to his wife and newborn son and began working in the chemical industry. At the same time, he and his father, a chemical company salesman, started a company in his father's garage. That company became Riverside Laboratories. Initially its primary product was industrial enamels, including the red paint on Radio Flyer wagons. But, Bob Schmidt was not content to produce a single product. He was an inventor and a chemist with the ability to visualize novel polymeric structures. The primary
product of his creativity was the first successful use of resin-impregnated paper to put a high quality surface on soft wood and particleboard, a process which became the standard of the furniture industry.
Bob Schmidt was an athlete, a singer, a violinist, a pilot, and a loving father to his two sons, but nothing was more important to him than the value of a good education. His experience at the University of Illinois was his model. His deep affection for the university was present throughout his life and he was very happy to have two sons and a grandson follow his footsteps to Urbana-Champaign.