Community rallies to build tribute to George Schmeider
Even in death, George E. Schmeider continues to inspire.
That message was loud and clear Saturday at dedication ceremonies for the George E. Schmeider Memorial Park in Oakland Beach. In six weeks, and without the use of city funds, a group that was inspired by Schmeider, a coach and teacher who died last December, transformed a cracked and crumbling basketball court and the surrounding area into a park.
“This was George’s domain. He loved everything about Oakland Beach,” said Gary Costantino, who served as master of ceremonies from staging in front of the refurbished basketball court, with its all-weather surface and new fencing. Costantino was the project manager and, as Mayor Scott Avedisian observed, was inspired by Schmeider.
Avedisian called it amazing how one person can be at the root of bringing so many people together for the betterment of the whole community. He pointed out that Schmeider inspired Costantino, and in turn Costantino inspired scores more who made the park a reality.
The list of those who had a role in building the park was extensive:
Gary Perry Jr. of Gary J. Perry Paving thanked individuals and companies that pitched in. A special thanks went to the Allstate Insurance company that donated $10,000 to the project. The estimated value of the improvements exceeds $200,000.
In addition to Gary J. Perry Paving Corp., other major contributors included:
Cardi Corp.; Rainone Landscaping; Allstate Insurance; Iggy’s Doughboy Inc.; Ellana Zuller Sports Foundation; Sands Law; and RI NSA Softball; On the Waterfront; Botelho Insurance; and Jeff Maloney Electric.
Schmeider was a husband and father of four. He was a beloved teacher at Gorton Junior High School and a wrestling coach at Warwick Veterans Memorial High School. He was an umpire and coach for the Warwick Softball Association, a member of the Rhode Island Interscholastic League, the Oakland Beach Volunteer Fire Company and JONAH. He was 37 when he died.
“Where else does everyone come together?” Councilwoman Donna Travis said of Oakland Beach.
She spoke of the infectious nature of the project and how the park will serve as an inspiration for others to also look for ways to improve the community.
Indeed, that is how Costantino sees it.
“It’s not over, this is just the beginning,” he said.
He envisions programs to involve area youth, assisting them with school studies and coaching them for athletics.
“I’m going to be around here for a long time,” he said.