Tribute to Orville Schmidt

From those energizing days in the European Pax office at Mennoniten Haus,  Kaiserslautern, Germany, both of us trying to keep up with new ideas and initiatives of Director Dwight Wiebe, to a later summer toiling together on the Schmidt family farm near Freeman, SD, while rooting for the ol’ Brooklyn Dodgers; then, after exchanging/sharing the role of wedding attendant,  those decades of his insistent plans to help keep Pax “alive”– with the Pax Program Committee, the 50th Anniversary Reunion, the ’03 European tour, etc. — he kept pulling me in.  His love of music included playing the piano, but who knew?  He continued contact with everyone via real mail — email “isn’t personal.”   And I’ll close with the fact that  I never knew anyone daring to challenge Orv in a typing race!                                                  –Arlo Kasper   [Please add comment below, or send to akasper@bethelks.edu for adding here.]

Obituary for Orville D. Schmidt

Orville D. Schmidt, 86, Wakarusa, IN, formerly of Freeman, South Dakota, died 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020 at his home. He was born May 25, 1933, to Sam J. & Marie P. (Tieszen) Schmidt. On Aug. 18, 1963, he married Sandra (Kroeker) Schmidt.
Surviving are his wife, Sandra, Wakarusa, children, Larissa Hunsberger, Lincoln, Nebraska, Catherine (Jeff) Krehbiel, Rose Hill, Kansas, 2 grandchildren, Erica & Ian Hunsberger, siblings, Allen (Mary) Schmidt, Freeman, South Dakota, Fyrne (Robert) Schlenker, South Dakota and sister-in-law, Diena Schmidt, Henderson, Nebraska.
Preceding him in death are his parents and a brother, Gordon Schmidt.
Orville was a farmer and taught history in Henderson, Nebraska and Metuchen, New Jersey. He was a member of Evangelical Mennonite Brethren, South Dakota and a member of the Pax Program Committee.
Orville spent his younger years on a farm near Freeman, South Dakota. He graduated from Freeman Academy and attended Freeman Junior College where he received his AA degree transferring to Bethel College in Kansas to finish his Bachelor’s Degree. Orville often spoke of teachers at the Freeman schools and Bethel College who had an impact on his life. A very major influence was his time spent in Europe as a “Paxman” from 1955-1957 and the following year as a student in Wuppertal, Germany. A trip to Moscow to participate in the  7th International Youth Festival was also very inspirational. These experiences changed his Life View dramatically. The Pax experience was so strong that he organized with others a pax tour reunion in 2003. A video of the history of the program was made during that reunion.
He returned to the states and began studies at the University of Chicago in Renaissance History. He took a job at Henderson High School teaching History and English and directing the school plays. There he met his future wife Sandra. After marriage the couple moved to New Jersey where Orville taught a course in Western Civilization at Metuchen High School while Sandra finished her MM degree. Together, they spend 3 years in Austria studying, traveling, learning German and enjoying new cultural experiences.
After 3 years in Europe the couple returned to Chicago and Orville once more enrolled at the University of Chicago and began studies in Medieval history and architecture. During these years two daughters were born – Larissa and Catherine. A move to Wakarusa, Indiana closed the Chicago studies phase.
Orville was attracted to farming by his brother, Gordon, and land was purchased in the Tilden Nebraska area. A close relationship developed between Orville and the farm manager, Randy Score. Together they planned and implemented the operation until Randy’s unexpected death. Orville did not feel he wanted to work with anyone else so the land was sold.
Orville was an interesting mix of interests – farmer as well as intellectual pursuits – and he retained an avid interest in both areas for most of his life.
In his last years he returned to his reading and writing interests until his health no longer allowed him to continue. His mind remained active and his love of music helped him weather the final days of disability.
Funeral services will be 1:30 p.m. February 8, 20020 at Walter Funeral Home, Freeman, South Dakota. Burial will be in Schartner Mennonite Cemetery, Rural Marion, South Dakota. Memorial donations may be directed to Mennonite Central Committee.
Online condolences may be sent at www.rrefh.com

 

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