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Couple’s gift of glassware gives auction an extra shine

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- Like any small college with loyal alumni, Bethel College is often the beneficiary of generous gifts. Donavon and Deloris Schmidt’s recent donation had a little extra sparkle. The Schmidts, of rural Newton, are longtime collectors of American glassware. They gave a portion of their collection--more than 600 pieces, about 20-30 percent of the total--to be sold at auction on Feb. 18. The pieces were mostly Imperial’s Candlewick pattern, with a few pieces of A.H. Heisey (Crystolite, Plantation and Rose Point), Fostoria (American, Baroque and Brocade) and Imperial Cape Cod.

Donavon is a 1959 graduate of Bethel College and was the physical plant director from 1987-1999 (he retired from Bethel in 2000).

"The sale went well," said Fred Goering, director of development. "The glassware sold for nearly $16,500. The highest selling item was a 72-candle [Candlewick] cake plate that went for $330. Donavon, Deloris and Bethel College were pleased at the response from friends and other bidders."

Auctioneer Vern Koch and his staff at Auction Specialists in Newton donated their time, so that almost all the proceeds of the auction went to Bethel College.

The Schmidts have been collecting glassware since 1988 when, Donavon says, "I saw a piece of Candlewick and I did some research on it. I liked it because all the pieces are handmade, not machine-made." They have gotten their pieces from small auctions and estate sales all over Kansas as well as from attending glass shows as far away as Omaha, Des Moines and Dallas. More recently, Donavon says, he has done some buying over the Internet.

"This was a way we could afford to [make a sizeable donation] to Bethel College," he says. "We had our fun with the collection and now it’s time to put it to another use."

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and has been named a Top Tier college by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1998. For more information, see the Bethel web site at

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