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Allen Schmidt: 1935-2020

  • Allen Schmidt
    Allen Schmidt

Allen Schmidt, 84, of Freeman, S.D., passed away on Oct. 19 at Sanford Hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D. A memorial service is pending for the morning of Saturday, Oct. 31 at the Salem-Zion Mennonite Church. 


Allen Schmidt, 84, of Freeman, S.D., passed away on Oct. 19, 2020 at Sanford Hospital. A private family burial will take place at Schartner Cemetery of rural Marion, S.D. A memorial service will be held in 2021.

Allen was born Dec. 11, 1935 to Marie P. Tieszen and Samuel J. Schmidt on the farm. The EMB Church was his home church until he left for college. Upon returning to South Dakota to farm and teach, he became a member of Salem-Zion (North) Church.

During his third week of teaching at Wichita Southeast High School, his colleague next door, Mary Pruitt, came into his room to ask him a question about a German class she was taking. He soon learned that her interest lay elsewhere. They were married June 6, 1967 and had two daughters: Katrina Marie, Sioux Falls and Monique Maria, St. Thomas, USVI.

Education was important to Allen. It took him from Sunshine District # 26 to Freeman Academy, Freeman Junior College, Bethel College and universities in Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, Germany, France, Quebec and Mexico. Diversification, always central in his thoughts, led him to become fluent in German, Spanish and French, all of which he taught during his many years of teaching. He educated students not only in the classroom but also on the many cross-cultural trips he organized into Western Europe and, at that time, Iron Curtain countries.

One experience which left an indelible impression on his life was his being granted CO status and working with Mennonite Central Committee PAX. In Paris, he worked with UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) International Workcamp Movement for one year and then one year as PAX secretary in Frankfurt, Germany. Up until his PAX experience, he had thought that the Mennonites had a monopoly on relief and voluntary service. He quickly learned that diverse religious groups and nationalities worked shoulder to shoulder to help people in need.

Food was an integral part of his life, both eating it and producing it. He pressed so many gallons of apple, pear and grape juice that he invested in an upright freezer just for juice. Never one to complain about meals, he was able to not so subtly make it known that he thrived on “real meat,” not salads and sandwiches. Every year, he looked forward to giving away bushels of apples and hundreds of pie pumpkins to nonprofits in Sioux Falls.

For many years he raised market lambs, but when he retired from teaching, he decided he needed something to do in the winter. So he bought a bunch of books and with the assistance of youtube, he taught himself to spin and knit. However, there was a tradeoff: for a longer fiber he had to phase out his beloved Montadales for Corriedales.

Survivors include his wife, Mary; daughters, Monique and Katrina; son-in-law, Harold Gordon; grandchildren, Natalie, Livie and Sam Gordon; sister, Fyrne (Bob)Schlenker, Rapid City; sisters-in-law Sandra Schmidt, Wakarusa, IN and Diena Schmidt, Henderson, NE and many other relatives and friends. Preceding him in death were his parents, and two brothers, Gordon and Orville.

In lieu of flowers please consider making a donation to Bienvenidos a Brookings, 929 4th Street, Brookings, SD 57006 (provides assistance to Hispanic immigrants in Flandreau area); MCC-Education for Girls Fund, PO Box 500, Akron, PA 17501; Salem-Zion Mennonite Church (North), 27844 443rd Ave, Freeman, SD 57029.