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Team concept works for custodian

Staff writer

Rannie Schmidt, 80, of rural Goessel is a team player. From his basketball playing days at Goessel High School in the late 1940s to his current occupation as maintenance and custodial worker at Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church, Schmidt enjoys the team-concept in all aspects of his life.

“I really enjoy my work here at the church,” Schmidt said. “I like to mow, and I like the camaraderie of working with Phyllis and Harold.”

His fellow church custodians agreed that working as part of Schmidt’s team is a good experience.

“He’s a good fixer,” Phyllis Voth said. “And any time we need to exchange duties, he is willing to work something out.”

“Rannie is dependable,” Harold Stultz said. “I trust Rannie, he always does what he says he is going to do.”

Staff members at Schmidt’s church celebrated his 80th birthday May 28 with a party. He was born May 29, 1932.

“I enjoy working at the church, it gives me something to go do,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt has been a goer and a doer all his life. He served as a regular school bus driver in the Goessel district for 16 years and still drives as a substitute when called.

“I’ve always loved to drive,” Schmidt said. “I never minded the long trips at all. There is so much to see in Kansas, and I’ve always had a heart for the kids.”

A good sense of humor makes Schmidt a popular figure with schoolchildren and staff alike.

“Once when I drove the boys’ team to Wakefield we weren’t quite sure where the school was,” Schmidt said. “Coach Cope was in the front seat by me and told me just to keep on going, even when the street we were on turned out to be a cemetery road. It took the school principal, the coach, and everything I had to get that school bus out of the cemetery. I’m just glad we didn’t knock over any gravestones.”

Even when he was not driving the team bus to football, volleyball, basketball or track events, Schmidt and his wife, Meribeth, often drove to games involving schoolchildren on their own.

“We enjoy the competitions, we enjoy supporting the kids,” he said.

While most of Schmidt’s driving is now on the church lawn mower, he does not hesitate to travel elsewhere if needed. He drove with Meribeth to Nebraska on Saturday for his great-nephew’s wedding.

In the past year, he traveled to Oregon to see his sister, and California to visit a son. Family has always been an important part of his life team-concept.

Prior to working as a custodian and bus driver, Schmidt operated a dairy with a large team of cows on his family home farm, where he still lives. He refereed basketball games for 18 years traveling throughout the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference and Jayhawk (junior college) Conference. He operated a battery reconditioning business on his farm, and maintained crop production acres for many years.

“I like having something to do,” Schmidt said. “We start every morning with a walk around the yard. I figured out six rounds take 30 minutes, so that is always my goal.”

Even when battling prostate cancer four years ago, Schmidt was still finding things to do, and using humor to keep it all in perspective.

“I took a load of iron and junk to a dealer in Wichita, just after getting through my cancer treatments,” he said. “They made me get out of the truck and off the scale because I was radioactive. Maybe I still am, I don’t know.”

Schmidt, a life-long member of the Alexanderwohl church, helped start the adult Chancel Choir more than 60 years ago. During the winter season, he continues to sing with the choir, as well as care for the church. He also works as a volunteer at the Harvey County homeless shelter. In the summertime Schmidt can often been seen around the church campus, mowing the grass, picking up tree limbs, or finding other things to do that support his team of staff, church members, family, and community.

Last modified June 7, 2012

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