SAN LEANDRO — Clyde Schmidt, a Daily Review sports illustrator who turned local athletes into colorful cartoon stars for more than 40 years, died Tuesday morning. He was 86.

Schmidt entertained readers every week with his published sketches of high school, college and professional athletes. He began drawing caricatures for the newspaper's "Prep of the Week" feature in the early 1960s and continued until the early part of this decade.

"He was definitely an institution at the Review," said Jon Becker, sports editor for The Daily Review. "For any high school kid playing sports, that was the ultimate thrill: to be the Prep of the Week. To see how old Clyde could make you look."

Working on a contract basis, the ex-sailor devoted a room in his house near Floresta Boulevard in San Leandro to drawing. He typically would come to the newspaper office on Fridays, pick up a head shot of a young athlete and could turn it into a drawing in no time.

"It was amazing to me that he was still doing them up until a few years ago," said Jim Hummel, a friend and retired staff cartoonist for the San Jose Mercury News. "He made a lot of kids happy with his illustrations."

Schmidt was born on Jan. 12, 1921, and grew up in Pittsburgh, Pa.

He joined the Navy in December 1941 and was a veteran of World War II and the Korean War.


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After returning from military service, he took a job as an airplane parts mechanic at the Naval Air Station in Alameda and continued working in various roles at the base until his retirement in the late 1970s.

He began drawing as a hobby, and eventually attracted the attention of newspaper editors, said his wife of 60 years, Barbara Schmidt.

ANG sports columnist Carl Steward, the subject of one of Schmidt's drawings in 1987, wrote Tuesday that he cherishes it "more than a Monet or Picasso."

Hundreds of originals are believed to be in the possession of the athletes who starred in them. A few of his youthful Prep of the Week subjects, such as former Hayward High School football player Jack Del Rio, went on to become national stars. Most did not.

"He would give the originals to the athletes and they really appreciated that," Barbara Schmidt said.

He also endeared himself to friends with his outgoing personality and active involvement in organizations such as the National Cartoonists Society. He drew people he met on cruises or while bedridden in the hospital.

"He was really humorous, he was funny and he had different sayings for things," his wife said.

Hummel, who has taught cartooning at San Jose State University, called Schmidt an "outstanding" person who was also one of the last artists to do local sports illustrations.

"There's not too much of that anymore, which is sad," Hummel said. "Most of our places of work have gone away."

Schmidt had stopped drawing several years ago because of problems with his right shoulder. He was never replaced at the newspaper — something his wife said meant a lot to him because he knew he was unique.

"He was the last of a breed," Becker said. "Having Clyde's cartoons in the paper just gave it more of a homey feeling."

Schmidt had lived with his wife in the same San Leandro house for 52 years. He met her at a dance at the Women's City Club in Oakland, where "all the sailors hung out," she said Tuesday.

He is also survived by two daughters, Beverly and Helene.