Don R. Schmidt

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Don R. Schmidt passed away peacefully on Nov. 21, 2020. Don was born in Elkader to Agnes Eleanor (Johnson) Schmidt and George Harold Schmidt Sr. on June 26, 1925. In his early years, the family business was a hometown pharmacy, where George Sr. was the proprietor and pharmacist and Agnes worked the books. Many of Don’s longest, strongest and dearest friendships were formed from his years growing up in Elkader and working with his father. 

Don graduated from Elkader High School in 1943 and enlisted in the Army during World War II. He was trained to be a navigator in the Army Air Corps, attending colleges and schools in Cincinnati and elsewhere during that process. Perhaps only by coincidence he was in a barracks near Alamogordo, N.M., the morning of the Trinity test site for the first atomic bomb detonation. If he held any atomic secrets, he took them to his grave. Following his honorable discharge, he attended the University of Iowa, where he was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and met many lifelong friends. While at Iowa, he met the love of his life, Emily, and brought her to their farm near Elkader, where they spent nearly 30 years raising and milking dairy cattle. Don and Emily learned that young calves were firmly imprinted by his everyday barn clothing (blue work shirt and khaki pants) that he nearly always wore working in barnyards in their last 15 years on the farm. That parent/child calf imprint lasted well into the cows’ later years, where they would often follow his outfit around the barns and fields, making it easy for him to attend to their needs. He was their caretaker and they all believed in him. 

Don knew many hardships in his life, including the death of his oldest son, Don Phillip, in a farm accident, as well as the deaths of his baby son, Christian Joseph, and youngest baby daughter, Mary Caroline, the latter two due to Rh blood issues. Don also knew many joys in his life, including the births of his three grandsons, Matthew, Benjamin and Mark, and the joining of his sweet step granddaughter, Dayna, and step grandson, Timothy, to his son’s family. Don was especially proud of the accomplishments of his grandchildren and was always looking forward to hearing more.  

Don and Emily were able to retire early and moved south to avoid that dreaded four letter word “snow,” first retiring to Cherokee Village, Ark., and later moving to Whispering Pines, N.C. Both locations were golfing retirement communities and Don and Emily enjoyed playing recreational golf and bridge games with their friends. Don also enjoyed gardening in his back yards and was justifiably proud of his many lawn plantings and flowers. 

Don and Emily became world travelers during their many years of retirement. They toured many cities and countries of Europe and Africa. One of the highlights was a hot air balloon ride over the African savanna, drifting low and slow over wild elephants and rhinos. Their trophies were gloriously large photographs which hung in their homes to the great delight of their grandsons when they visited. 

Don is survived by his son, John Thomas Schmidt, and his wife, Becky Lynn Schmidt, of Verona, Wis. Don is also survived by his grandchildren, Matthew (wife Kari Ann Stevens) Schmidt, Benjamin (friend Danielle Alexander) Schmidt and Mark (friend Mariah Williams) Schmidt, all of Portland, Ore. Don is further survived by his grandchildren-by-marriage, Dayna (husband Kyle) McManners, Verona, Wis., and Timothy (wife AnnMarie) McEnroe, Phillipsburg, N.J., and his brother-in-law Thomas A. Phillips of Virginia, as well as many, many very loved nephews, nieces and their families. 

Due to current conditions, the family plans to delay services until the summer of 2021. 

The family would like to thank the staff at Willow Pointe and Don’s doctors at the UW clinics. In lieu of flowers, donations to your local food bank would be appreciated. To view and sign the guestbook, please visit www.ryanfuneralservice.com.

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