Don Schmeltekopf: Early Life and Foundations
"When I grew up there was no I-35," says Don Schmeltekopf. "It was just Highway 81 running up from Laredo through San Antonio and into Fort Worth."
The road, in some ways, marks the path of Schmeltekopf's life. Born into a rural farming community just outside of Kyle, Schmeltekopf followed U.S. Hwy 81 a few miles south to San Marcos after high school.
"I started my collegiate career at Southwest Texas State, he says. I went there on a basketball scholarship, of all things. Along the way I decided to transfer to Baylor."
In San Marcos, Schmeltekopf became friends with Bill Crook. Crook had been the pastor of a large Baptist church in east Texas, had run for the House of Representatives, lost, and landed at San Marcos as president of the San Marcos Baptist Academy.
"He took a-liking to me," says Schmeltekopf. "We went to Glorieta for Student Week in August of 1960, and Bill said 'why don't you drive back with me and my family, and we can share the driving.'"
The long drive gave Crook and Schmeltekopf time to talk. They talked about Schmeltekopf's ambitions, college, and the future. Then, Crook said something that would change the course of Schmeltekopf's life.
"He got hold of me and said - 'look, if you are going to get into Baptist life, you need to be a Baylor graduate. You need to transfer to Baylor.'"
So, he did, earning a B.A. in History in 1962.
After transferring to Baylor, Schmeltekopf began doing music and youth work at First Baptist Church of Georgetown. As he neared graduation, he began planning his next step. While at Glorieta, Schmeltekopf met Judy Carlisle, a student at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. He wanted Carlisle to move south with him to Georgetown. She would teach in Austin, and he would start seminary at Austin Presbyterian after they married in June 1962.