Mike Schmidt, one of the most influential members of the Edgerton community over the past 35 years, passed away last weekend in San Rafael, Calif., where he had lived for a year-and-a-half.
Schmidt, 71, lost a year-long battle with lung cancer.
Friends and colleagues remember Schmidt as a tireless worker who had a strong sense of humor.
Schmidt served on the Edgerton City Council from the mid-1970s to the mid-2000s in capacities ranging from mayor to councilman.
He also was instrumental in organizing the annual Frontier Days festival, as well as Edgerton’s community Halloween and Christmas parties.
“Mike was a wonderful person,” said Janeice Rawles, Edgerton city clerk. “He was so involved in Frontier Days, Halloween and Christmas. He did them because that was what he did. Those were Mike Schmidt things.”
Rawles said Schmidt was also known as a prankster.
She recalls a time when she came back from a conference with a bag of stuffed animals, including a special stuffed duck that she planned to give to her daughter.
Schmidt told Rawles he would bring the stuffed animals to city hall and noted that there was no duck in the bag.
When the stuffed duck was discovered, Schmidt jokingly said, “That’s not a duck. That’s a chicken.”
“He only did that to see how mad he could make me,” Rawles said with a laugh. “We had a lot of good times with him.”
Glyn Powers, retired superintendent for the city of Edgerton and current city council member, said Schmidt was his best friend for 34 years.
“He (Schmidt) He would do anything for anybody at anytime,” Powers said. “He was a good guy, a hard worker who never wanted to sit around. He always wanted to work.”
Schmidt, who was born and raised in Edgerton, started his career in the U.S. Air Force before working several years for Montgomery Ward, according to Powers.
After retiring from that company Schmidt did construction and contracting work and owned a restaurant in the building that now houses the Edgerton Bank of Knowledge.
Schmidt and his wife, Mary Ann, moved to California in the summer of 2010 to be closer to their daughter and grandchildren.
Powers said the move was temporary and Schmidt had planned to return to Edgerton before he was diagnosed with cancer.
He said Schmidt will be sorely missed by coworkers, colleagues and friends.
“There weren’t too many people who didn’t like him,” Powers said.
Rhonda Humble, publisher of The Gardner News, said Schmidt was a valuable asset to the Edgerton community.
“Communities need more people like Mike Schmidt,” Humble said. “What made Mike special was his ‘can do’ mentality; he made it seem like no goal was out of reach, and his fingerprint is on many area projects — including the Bank of Knowledge and Frontier Days. Every June, just like clockwork, he came around wanting a donation for the festival’s silent auction, and when he left, he always had a donation plus involving the newspaper in half a dozen other projects.”
Powers said funeral arrangements have yet to be finalized, but he believes a memorial service will be held in Edgerton after the holidays.