Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Schmitz was a loving mother and kind, despite difficulties


January 16, 2020

Mother and waitress Robyn Schmitz, 56, died Dec. 22 at the Kamalani Assisted Living Home in Anchorage after a long illness that affected her liver. Her caregiver was by her side.

Fisherman Kenny Thomsen said his mother was "the most kind person" he knew.  "She loved me, Jimmy and our sister and would have done anything for us. She had an incredible soul and was such a loving person in spite of having had a rough go of it."

Schmitz was often all smiles, friendly, and excelled at waiting tables, from the exclusive Two Bunch Palms Resort in Desert Hot Springs, California, to the Lighthouse Restaurant in Haines, her daughter Chanelle Nieto said. "She had a servant's heart."

Robyn Schmitz was born on Oct. 15, 1963 to Elayne Blair and Ray Schmitz in Southern California. Schmitz was living on her own by about age 14. She grew up in Huntington Beach, where her daughter was born in 1982.  She was a good mother that "strove to shower us children with the love and affection she had always wished she received, " Nieto said.

Casey Thomsen met Schmitz 35 years ago when he got out of the Navy. While she had addiction issues, he was smitten by her beauty, strength, street smarts, and warm personality. "We could go into a big store in California, the kind with about 1,000 people, and when we left she'd know everybody," he said.

The couple moved to Utah, where his parents Blaine and Dawne Thomsen lived, and where their sons Jimmy and Kenny were born. In the mid-90s the family and the senior Thomsens came to Haines and built neighboring homes.

Schmitz worked at several area restaurants and hotels, and trained her then-teenage daughter at the Lighthouse one summer. "She'd run circles around everyone. She rarely wrote an order down and remembered everyone's names," not only regulars, Nieto said, but the people who had walked in off the cruise ships as well. "Her guests would leave as her friends. It was her gift."

Rev. Jan Hotze noted that, "Robyn was one of those people that was really a mixture. Caring, loving, kind. She'd get into trouble and then try to do good.  No matter how many times she fell, she did her best to get back on her feet." While not a churchgoer, "she was quite a Christian believer, and her faith sustained her, and gave her hope."

"When Robyn was good, she was the best woman in the world," Casey Thomsen said.

Nieto said her mother was "at peace" when she died and was well cared for by a woman who was much like a second mother to her. "I often wonder what could have been had her illness not progressed and she furthered her education. She had such an empathetic heart and found fulfillment in caring for others, I think she would have made an incredible RN," Nieto said.

Robyn Schmitz is survived by her daughter and son-in law Chanelle and Gilbert Nieto of Murrieta California.; her sons, Kenny and Jimmy Thomsen of Haines; grandson Roman Nieto; brother Eric Schmitz; stepsister Janna Fitzgerald, and an aunt Betty and cousin Linda in Palm Desert.

Cards may be mailed to Chanelle Nieto at 39224 Anchor Bay Unit C, Murrieta California.


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