A family misses its leader. A business is without an owner. And stock car racing has lost a longtime participant.
Earl Lee Schmitt Jr. of Omaha died Saturday in an accident at his business, Schmitt Trucking Inc. of Bartlett, Iowa. He was 57.
Beverly Norris-Schmitt of Omaha said her husband was killed when a late-model Chevrolet Malibu slipped off jack stands that were positioned on dirt.
The trucking firm includes two drivers, she said, and Schmitt sometimes performed repair work on their trucks.
She offered advice for do-it-yourselfers who work under vehicles: “If you're working with jack stands, make sure you're on something solid, like concrete.''
She described Schmitt as “a great guy with a big heart.”
“The day we lost him, we lost a star.''
The family will decide later about the future of the business, said daughter Theresa Ngumi of Omaha.
Schmitt was born and raised in South Omaha, where he attended South High School.
His wife said he had loved working on cars since his early teens.
“That stuff has been in his blood forever,'' she said.
Among racers, he was known as Earl the Pearl.
Added daughter Tonya Iske of Glenwood, Iowa:
“He loved stock car racing. His first car was a '57 Chevy that he raced at Playland” Speedway in Council Bluffs.
“Later on, he was mainly known for racing car No. 70,” even if its make and model changed with time, she said.
Family members described Schmitt as a hard worker all his life, from lugging beef at packinghouses in his 20s to managing rental properties he owned in his 30s and 40s to operating his trucking company with his wife in his 50s.
He also enjoyed fishing and traveling, his family said.
Other survivors include son Todd Schmitt of Pacific Junction, Iowa; daughter Tammy Huit of Pacific Junction; stepdaughter Tihauna Norris of Omaha; and six grandchildren.
A memorial service will begin at noon Saturday at Braman Mortuary Southwest Chapel, 6505 S. 144th St. Family will greet friends at 11 a.m.
World-Herald staff writer Jay Withrow contributed to this report.
Contact the writer: 402-444-1165, firstname.lastname@example.org