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Claude Fred Schmidt passed away at his home in Pequot Lakes, Wednesday, October 26, 2022, surrounded by family at the young age of 94. Claude was born on May 8, 1928, in Pequot Lakes to Herman and Susan Schmidt. He left school in 8th grade and began working for his brother-in-law, Lawrence Henderson, at a dairy in Nisswa. In 1944, at the age of 16, he started working for Burlington Northern RR as a track laborer. In 1951, Uncle Sam came calling and Claude was drafted into the Army and proudly served his country in the Korean War. After his service he returned to work at Burlington Northern and worked his way up to the position of electrician. In total, he worked 44 years for BN and was very proud of the pension he earned. Claude and his BN coworker and longtime friend, Ernie Musolf, were the true life characters of the famous cartoons in the Echo newspaper for 28 years. The cartoons were created by friend Dan Gola who based the cartoons on Claude and Ernie’s lives. Claude and Ernie shared a very social life at the Pequot Legion and you could hear the two laughing and talking over all of the other noise on many occasions. Local friends and family often contributed personal stories to Dan for the weekly cartoons. Claude was an avid outdoorsman enjoying hunting, fishing, walking, biking, and for many years gardening with buddy Al Bragstad.
Claude married the love of his life and social butterfly, Donna Fick, on June 19, 1964 and together raised 7 kids: Lonnie, Vicky, Sparky, Kathy, Steve, Teri, and Scott. Claude was an extraordinarily kind person and will be missed by many loyal friends and family.
There were 3 things Claude loved doing most in his later years 1) Fishing with his sons because he out fished them almost every time. 2) Going out to coffee with the boys where he provided guidance, encouragement, and political advice to those around him. 3) Going out to lunch with his best friend, Fatty. They had their favorite spots, and one was the Nisswa Legion, because in Claude's opinion, the best cook in the world worked there (Vicki) and the other was Lucky's (Claude called it Amy’s) because they had the “prettiest, and kindest servers in the world”.
Claude was preceded in death by his wife, Donna; his parents, Herman and Susan; brother, Sonny; sisters, Irene and Lucille; son, Lonnie Gardner; daughter, Vicki Yalowizer; and sons-in law, Greg Johnson and David Yalowizer. He is survived by his loving children: Sparky (Gale) Gardner, Kathy Gardner, Steve (Brenda) Schmidt, Teri (Stan) Bratt, and Scott Schmidt; 10 grandchildren; 17 great grandchildren; 7 great-great grandchildren; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
A celebration of life/memorial service will be held at the Kline Funeral Home in Pequot Lakes on Saturday, November 12th from noon-2PM. The graveside service is 2:15 at the Jenkins Cemetery, and a luncheon to follow at the Pequot American Legion at 2:30PM- ???
We all know Claude loved a good story. We would love if you could share your stories that used to make him laugh so hard his teeth would fall out!
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