John D. Schmidt, 92, passed away on May 23, 2016 at Kidron Bethel Healthcare. John was born in Marion County on January 29, 1924 to Daniel B. and Anna (Schmidt) Schmidt. He was the fifth of seven children. Growing up on a farm during the Great Depression was a difficult time. John learned at an early age to earn cash by whatever means were available to him. This involved hunting, trapping, and lighting the school house stove. He also traveled to Colorado and Missouri to shuck corn. He later had the opportunity to work as a farm hand in the Montezuma, Kansas area. Here he developed life-long friendships. John loved school, but was not able to finish high school, completing his sophomore year at Goessel High School.
John served in the Army during World War II, as a non-combatant. Most of his time was spent in Egypt. During this time he was able to visit the Holy Land and climb one of the Great Pyramids. These are opportunities he always treasured. After the War, he worked for Crossroads Co-op. During this time he met Linda Banman, and they were married on September 16, 1954 at Goessel Mennonite Church. The newlyweds took up residence in Newton. John continued to work for the Co-op in various capacities, from a large propane delivery route to management, until retiring in 1986. He always had a close working relationship with farmers, and continued to supply them with seed for a number of years following his retirement from Co-op.
Always a gardener, John maintained a large garden at home, and a huge one at the farm of his daughter and son-in-law in Marion County. Many crops were lovingly planted, tended and harvested. Much of this produce was canned or frozen by Linda. For many years he was a vendor at the Newton Farmer’s Market, where he earned the nickname “Cucumber Schmidt”.
John and Linda were avid travelers, visiting all 50 states, Canada, Mexico and several countries in Europe.
John was a charter member of Faith Mennonite Church, where he actively served in numerous capacities, as long as he was able to do so. He will always be remembered for his Children’s Stories at church. Another important ministry to him was prison ministry. He first served with Upper Room Fellowship and later the M-2 program. He was still visiting inmates at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility until the age of 90. John was a member of the Newton Rotary Club for 40 years, even serving a term as president.
John’s wife, Linda, passed away on February 24, 2015. Also preceding him in death were sister Martha and brothers Danny, Clarence and Walter. He is survived by his children: Richard (Pam) Schmidt of North Newton, Terri (Leslie) Wedel of rural Goessel, and Steve (Dawn)Schmidt of rural Moundridge. Grandchildren: Bret (fiancée Breckyn Dawson) Schmidt of Newton, Luke Schmidt of Lawrence, Janessa (Neal) Walters of Andover and Lindsey Wedel of rural Goessel. Sisters: Mary Jane Janzen of North Newton and Alice Janzen of Enid, Oklahoma. And a host of nieces, nephews and other extended family.
Visitation with the family will be on Tuesday, May 31 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Faith Mennonite Church, 2100 N. Anderson Ave., Newton. Services will be held at Faith Mennonite Church on Wednesday, June 1 at 11:00 a.m. Memorials have been established for Faith Mennonite Church and Mennonite Central Committee. Petersen Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.