Former resident saw life through poetry


Although she passed away more than 40 years ago, Madisonville High School graduate Helen Schmiech’s book of poetry “Fading Sun” was published earlier this year and serves as somewhat of a memoir to her family.

Schmiech (pronounced “Shmeek”) was born in 1915 near Madisonville and attended the Elwood School from 1920 to 1930.

She graduated from Madisonville High School in 1932, where she was valedictorian, champion debater and­ captain of the district volleyball team. She then attended Sam Houston State College and went on to teach at Elwood School, Smiley High School, Burbank Middle School, Sam Houston High School and San Jacinto Junior College. She earned a master’s degree and doctorate of education from the University of Houston.

Schmiech’s son Dan, now 75 years old and living in Vermont, said he was close to his mother and taught poetry with her.

“We used to talk about putting together a book someday,” he said. “When she died, my daughter Marcie was very young. The younger generation never got to know her.”

Helen Schmiech was killed in a car accident in 1974. She was 59 years old. Her son pointed out that she would have turned 100 last year.

Her love for family is evident in her poetry, as she writes about family reunions, her children, grandchildren and parents.

“People have called and thanked me for doing this,” Dan Schmeich said of his decision to publish the poetry, “I gave a copy to a lady who took it to her family reunion. It really touched them. That would thrill my mother.”

The book has been particularly special to members of the family who have learned new things about the late Helen Schmeich.

“Some of the younger ones have teared up and cried,” Dan Schmeich said. “Grandkids have called and thanked me. Some were really emotional.”

He noted that his wife made significant contributions in seeing the book through to production. They recently attended a relative’s funeral in Madisonville and were able to distribute copies of the book to close friends from Helen Schmeich’s hometown.

“She was pretty versatile,” Dan Schmeich said of his mother. “Her first love was music, but you have to make a living in life. She wanted to be a concert pianist, but she didn’t get to fulfill her ambitions in that area.”

Decades ago, Helen Schmeich answered an ad requesting song lyrics. She submitted hers but never heard back. Later, however, she heard some of her lyrics had been included in songs.

“That was why I wanted to make sure these poems were copyrighted,” Dan Schmeich said. “I wanted to do this ever since my mother died. At first it was hard to deal with. I was pretty close to my mother. Life was busy. I’m very glad that I did it.”

Friends and family may contact Dan Schmiech at for a complimentary copy of the book.