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Published: 2/2/2004

Farmer was on Swanton school board

James F. Schmidt, a former member of the Swanton Board of Education who operated a Fulton County farm with his brothers for many years, died Friday at Swanton Healthcare and Retirement Center. He was 78.

Mr. Schmidt died from complications of emphysema and lung cancer, said his daughter, Teresa Rzonca.

The Schmidt Brothers Mapleview Farms is still run near Swanton by Mr. Schmidt s family.

After serving in the military and graduating from Ohio State University, he joined his brothers in the business for nearly 20 years.

Mr. Schmidt served on the Swanton Board of Education for several years during the 1960s, his daughter said.

“He just wanted to see that the schools were really good and that they were all of good quality,” she said. “He did a lot of things to help the community.”

Mr. Schmidt s daughter said he would be remembered most as a “really dynamic person who always tried to contribute.”

Mr. Schmidt was born in Monroe County and moved to Swanton after his family bought a farm in there when he was a young boy.

He graduated from Swanton High School in 1942 and attended Ohio State University for a year before enlisting in the Army Air Corps during World War II.

Mr. Schmidt served as a bombardier/navigator and attained the rank of 1st lieutenant before his discharge.

He returned from the service and completed his education at Ohio State in 1952, when he graduated magna cum laude, Mrs. Rzonca said.

“He decided to go into business with his brothers,” his daughter said. “They were already farming, and he joined them. They did a lot of new things after he joined, like irrigation.”

Mr. Schmidt remained with the farm until 1971, when he then took a management position for The Andersons, from which he retired in 1978.

“I think he just wanted to use different skills and he was ready to try something different,” Mrs. Rzonca said. “He had a couple of different positions, and he was one of the managers in the fertilizer division.”

After he retired, Mr. Schmidt was ordained a deacon in the Catholic Diocese of Toledo.

Surviving are his wife of 56 years, Marjorie Schmidt; son, Richard Schmidt; daughters, Teresa Rzonca, Janet Lett, Judith Fessenden, Jacquelyn Cloud, Kathleen Huston, and Bonnie Davidson; brother, Paul Schmidt; sister, Mary Catherine Frederick; 17 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. today at St. Caspar Catholic Church in Wauseon, where there will be a viewing beginning at 10 a.m. Arrangements were handled by the Weigel Funeral Home in Swanton.

The family suggests tributes to the American Cancer Society.



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