Lonnie Dean Schmidt, age 64, of Menahga, Minnesota passed away peacefully on Sunday, April 12, 2020 at Sanford Hospital in Fargo, North Dakota.
Due to current gathering restrictions/StayHomeMN, a Celebration of Life service will be held at a later date, yet to be determined.
Lonnie Dean Schmidt was born on January 16, 1956 to Milton and Ione (Tobeck) Schmidt in Wheaton, Minnesota and was raised on the family farm near Wheaton. After graduating from Wheaton High School, he earned his teaching degree at Moorhead State University and began his teaching career in Menahga, where he taught until his retirement.
Faith, family and friends were always very important to Lonnie. He was baptized, confirmed and remained a member of St. John Lutheran Church, Wheaton, throughout his life. He sang in and accompanied church choirs even as a youth and more recently enjoyed slipping up to the choir loft to sing with the church choir on holidays. Parents, siblings, nieces, nephews and great-nieces and nephews were especially dear to him, and he was always making himself available to them for physical or emotional support. He played the role of “godfather” to nieces, nephews and close friends’ children even if they weren’t really his godchildren. He attended their school and church activities whenever possible. He was a friend, confidant and mentor to them, encouraging them to do and be their best. Lonnie especially cherished the friendship of his close caring friends in the community and the activities they engaged in together. Family and friends enjoyed his good sense of humor and making special memories together with him.
Lonnie’s passion was music. Piano, organ, keyboard, and vocal music flowed from him endlessly and he shared his musical gifts willingly. He was the “go-to person” for family and community when musical advice was sought out or performances were requested. As a vocal music instructor at Menahga Schools for thirty-five years, his love for music was introduced to thousands of students.
Photography and the art of creating stained glass projects also kept Lonnie busy. His photography skills were amazing and very appreciated. Many striking photos were taken while he enjoyed time at his home looking across Stocking Lake, around the family farm and of family and friends. Special effects and restoring old photos were challenges he willingly took on resulting in beautiful outcomes. His colorful stained-glass projects were labors of love and are held dear by those that received them.
Upon moving to Menahga to begin his teaching career, Lonnie immersed himself in the local community and culture. You don’t think of the Menahga School music program without thinking of Mr. Schmidt. He brought so much joy and creativity to all the Christmas and spring concerts and students that were blessed to have him as their music teacher have memories to cherish. Lonnie shared his many gifts and talents by assisting in local church activities, Bible School, Veterans Day programs, National Honor Society inductions, and numerous community events. Many former students from Menahga asked him to sing or play at their weddings and he gave comfort to community families when he played or sang at funerals. Lonnie was a member of the Menahga Gateway Lions organization. He was the historian and was known and honored for awards for his photo boards and books documenting the Lions events held to support the Menahga community. Lonnie was awarded the prestigious Melvin Jones Fellow Award and the Friend of Kamp KACE Award as a member of the Gateway Lions. Lonnie was Menahga’s Teacher of the Year in 1999 and was named the Outstanding Community Arts Leader for Wadena County.
Lonnie is survived by his mother Ione Schmidt of Wheaton; brother Lee (Janette) Schmidt of Wheaton; sister Lynae (Gene) Berger of Wheaton; special friends Bob and Kerry White of Park Rapids, MN and their children Alex and Lindsey; and Linda West of Menahga; nephews and nieces: Michael (Erin) Martinek of Wheaton, and their children Gunner, Karter and Oaklee; Paul Martinek of Alexandria, and his son Jackson; Robbie (Jay) Schmidt of Wheaton, and their children Taylin and Carver; Tara (James) Stotesbery of Barry, MN and their children Parker, Dru, Carsyn and Gibson; Tera Berger of Maple Grove; MN; Tony (Gina) Berger of Wheaton, and their children Kyla, Hadley, Kinley and Paedyn; Levi (Christina) Berger of Harrisburg, SD and their children Miles and Lana.
Lonnie was preceded in death by his father Milton and his sister Sherilyn Martinek.
Lonnie’s typical response to “How are you?” or “How’s it going?” was always a cheerful, “Wonderful and perfect… in every way!”- and now it is. Lonnie will be sadly missed, but fondly remembered by all who knew and loved him.
Condolences can be mailed to Lynae Berger, 607 12th Street North, Wheaton, Minnesota 56296.
Arrangements are entrusted to Bainbridge Funeral Home of Wheaton, Minnesota. To sign the online guestbook or watch the video tribute visit www.bainbridgefuneralhome.com. 4-22pd
I remember when Lonnie taught my kids music. Lonnie was always cheerful and always had a smile. He took pictures for the Lions Club and they were awesome. He was truly unique. I will miss your smile and humor Lonnie.