Monday, March 25, 2013

BIRTHDAY BIO -- Kenneth H. Schmidt (1932-2011)

Today would have been my dad’s 81st birthday.
Kenneth Howard Schmidt was born in 1932 in Greensburg, Kansas, in the home of a midwife. He could point the house out to me before the tornado of 2007 destroyed it.

He was the oldest child of Harvey and Beatrice Schmidt. They would add another son, Lee, and a daughter, Judi, to their family in later years. He grew up on a farm southwest of town.

While the Schmidt families came from a Mennonite background, Harvey and Beatrice were not regular church attenders as Ken grew up.  But Ken would return to his Mennonite roots and join the church as a young man at Hesston College, Hesston, Kansas. And Ken would go on to work for the Mennonite Church – and in particular, the medical ministries – the rest of his life.

 Ken’s path into this field began with his salvation experience. As a Mennonite, he chose to be a conscientious objector and registered as such with the selective service. This change of status made him a target of selective service investigation for many years.

Ken served out his alternative service as an orderly in hospitals in Pueblo, Colorado. While this wasn't his first choice, he was glad to have a location in Colorado as his girlfriend and future wife, Phyllis Egli, was in nurses training in LaJunta, Colorado – about 75 miles away.

After he completed his service and Phyllis completed her training, they were married and settled in Kansas working as farmers for Ken’s dad, Harvey. But Ken kept his hand in the medical field. He was on the board at the local hospital.  And eventually he decided to go back to college and got a degree from Bethel College, North Newton, Kansas in Medical Technology.

In the following years, the Mennonite Church hired him to work in hospitals and nursing homes in south Texas, Colorado, and Indiana. Although he was trained in medical technology, he worked in administrative positions. And even after he retired and returned to Greensburg, Kansas, he worked as administrator of the local nursing home.

Ken was also active in churches wherever he lived and active in the lives of his children and grandchildren. He was also a part-time farmer in Colorado and in Kansas.

Ken was a very devoted husband and in their later years, Ken and Phyllis - his wife of over 50 years – were often seen holding hands as they walked down the halls of their retirement apartment community.

As Phyllis struggled with illness and disabilities, he was more and more her constant help and companion. And as her health failed, so did his. He was showing early signs of dementia.

Mom passed away in January 2010 and in the months that followed, Dad seemed to lose his will to live. He lost weight and slowly slipped away from us. He passed away on the 25th of January 2011. We love you and miss you, Dad.

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