Elgin Schmidt, 94

Elgin Schmidt

Elgin Warn Schmidt, age 94 of Lakefield, formerly of Tracy, passed away Sunday, May 19, 2019 at Sioux Falls VA Medical Center.  All his family and friends visited him there in his last two days before pulmonary fibrosis ended his life.   For most of his life Elgin enjoyed robust health.  Funeral services will be held at 10:30am Friday, May 24 at Tracy Lutheran Church in Tracy.  Visitation will be 4:00-7:00pm Thursday, May 23, at the Tracy Area Funeral Home with a prayer service at 6:30pm.  Visitation will continue one hour prior to the service at church.  Interment will be in the Tracy City Cemetery.  Online condolences may be sent at www.stephensfuneralservice.com.  Stephens Funeral Service – Tracy Area Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.

Elgin Warn Schmidt was the fourth child of Emil Wilhelm Schmidt and Bertha Stahn Schmidt, born, November 1, 1924; this was the same year the tornado destroyed their house.  He attended the country school near his parents’ family farm located about 3 miles southeast of Tracy. He farmed with his parents after graduating in 1942 from Tracy High School.  He was drafted into the Army in 1945 to serve during WWII. He spent two years in the Army’s 11th Airborne Artillery Division where he trained as a paratrooper and reached the level of Corporal T5. The night the U.S. dropped the devastating atomic bomb on Japan, Elgin was aboard one of many ships lined up just waiting 100 miles from the Japanese island of Okinawa.  He was then assigned cleanup duty which included going into caves to scare out Japanese soldiers.   Like many veterans who return home from horrific war events, he never spoke to his family about the war. Finally, at his 90th birthday party, November 1, 2019, he revealed that he had been shot through the mouth. That wound became infected, and was treated with penicillin.  At that time, an infected patient was administered penicillin every 10 minutes.

Elgin married Darline Ackerman of Slayton in 1948 and they took over his uncle’s farm which adjoined his parents’ farm. They raised five children.  The farm’s peak production had 1,000 head of cattle and 500 head of pigs.  The family worked a huge garden that fed them for the entire year.  By 1980, he was one of the numerous farmers who had been encouraged to take out loans at high interest rates. He also lost $100,000 due to the grain elevator’s mismanagement of his grain sold on parity. Due to helpful intervention of Paul Sobosinki with the Land Stewardship Project, a Minnesota farmer organization, he was able to save his farm.  Elgin was active in community affairs of Tracy and later in Lakefield where he lived until shortly before his death. In high school, he was President of Future Farmers of America.   He served Tracy Lutheran Church in several positions including President of the church board. He was President Tracy Farmers’ Elevator Board for 17 years, President of the Farmers’ Union, and Vice President of the Balaton Oil Cooperative.  In addition to being an avid gardener, who shared produce with others, Elgin loved attending dances and reading many books and articles about alternative medicine and nutrition.

Elgin is survived by his children: Sharon Schmidt, Raymond (Evelyn) Schmidt, Joan (Marlin) Negen, Shirley Johnson, and Roger Schmidt; 7 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; and many other family and friends.

He is preceded in death by his first wife of 30-plus years, Darline Ackerman Schmidt, deceased in November 2018; his second wife, Mary Coyle Schmidt, deceased in 1988, passed the first year of their marriage; and his loving companion of 20-plus years, Shirley Place, deceased November 2018; his parents, two sisters and two brothers.