Gerald Schmidt, 90, of Oelwein passed away Friday November 12, 2021. Visitation will be from 4:00-7:00 PM on Tuesday November 16, 2021 at the Geilenfeld-Buehner Funeral Home in Oelwein. Funeral services will begin at 10:30 AM on Wednesday November 17, 2021 at Zion Lutheran Church in Oelwein with Pastor Josh Schunk officiating. Interment will be in Woodlawn Cemetery at Oelwein. A memorial fund has been established.
Gerald was born June 4, 1931, in Oelwein, Iowa, the son of Edwin F. Schmidt and Ella (Lauck) Schmidt. He attended grade school at the one-room schoolhouse Jefferson Township #7, a one-mile walk east of the Schmidt farm. He attended Maynard High School and played guard on the Blue Devils football team. He graduated in the class of 1950.
Gerald was drafted into the United States Army in September 1952 and served two years during the Korean War. After basic training at Camp Gordon, Georgia, Gerald was assigned to the military police unit at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. While achieving the rank of sergeant, Gerald’s duties included locating soldiers who failed to report to duty, transporting the base payroll, and arresting local moonshiners.
Gerald attended Iowa State College (ISC) in Ames on the G.I. Bill for two years. While at ISC, he took classes in agricultural journalism and wrote for several campus student publications, including the magazine The Green Gander, the Iowa Agriculturalist and the student paper the Iowa State Daily. He enjoyed playing pranks on college co-eds. He lived on-campus in Alumni Hall over a disused swimming pool that was prone to flooding. Gerald left college in 1956 and returned to the family farm to take over from his parents.
After a chance meeting at the Oelwein soda shop, The Candy Box, Gerald married Nora Elaine Hammond on August 18, 1957, in Zion Lutheran Church. Together they farmed the Schmidt family farm five miles northwest of Oelwein. Gerald and Nora had two sons, Allan and David, who worked alongside their parents milking Holstein cows, farrowing and finishing market hogs, and cultivating a crop rotation of corn, soybeans, oats and hay. Gerald won the Outstanding Young Farmer of the Year Award in 1963 from the Oelwein Chamber of Commerce.
He was active at Zion Lutheran Church in Oelwein, serving on the church council for three terms, including as president and Sunday school superintendent. For 10 years, he served on the Rural Electric Board for the Rural Electric Cooperative (REC) in Independence and on the Fayette County Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS) committee. Over the years, he was an active member of the Oelwein Farmer’s Cooperative Creamery, the Maynard Cooperative and the Fayette County Farm Bureau. He was a member of Ross Reid American Legion Post #9 of Oelwein. He enjoyed researching and writing about local and family history, fishing and camping with his family, visiting with friends, and working with Nora and his two sons on the farm.
In 2014 the Schmidt family farm was honored as a Heritage Farm by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and Iowa Farm Bureau Federation for continuous ownership and operation by one family for more than 150 years. The farm has been in the Schmidt family since 1859. Operation of the Schmidt family has passed on to Gerald’s son David and wife Ann (Luckeroth), becoming the seventh generation of Schmidts to till the soil.
Up until his death Gerald enjoyed helping David with farm chores including hauling loads of corn at harvest, picking up parts for needed equipment repairs, or staying close to the phone in case David needed a ride home from the field.
Gerald leaves behind his wife of 64 years, Nora; son Allan; son David and his wife Ann; four grandchildren, Patrick, Chloe, Hannah and Tyler (Ashley Navratil); and a sister, Marilyn Thalacker of Waverly and her husband, Rev. William Thalacker and family. He was preceded in death by his parents and youngest sister Elaine Bloker, formerly of Wheeling, Ill. She had a family of three children.