OBITUARY: Hartzel Wayne Schmidt

Hartzel Wayne Schmidt died on June 28, 2021. He was born on Oct. 21, 1925, to Albert and Anna Lehrman Schmidt at Bethel Deaconess Hospital in Newton, Kan. He grew up on the family farm near Goessel, Kan., and attended the Tabor Mennonite Church, where he was baptized on June 13, 1943. In the fall of 1946, he volunteered as a Seagoing Cowboy to help care for some 777 horses that were to be shipped to what was then Yugoslavia. He stayed involved with grain and small dairy farming for a number of years.

On June 4, 1954, he married Ilene Schroeder in Aberdeen, Idaho. They met at Bethel College, where Ilene was working for the president and he was working in the business office. To this union were born three sons, Rodney Alan, Charles Albert, and William Jon. After marriage, they joined the Bethel College Mennonite Church in October of 1954, where Hartzel was an active member of the Sojourners Sunday school class.

Hartzel graduated from Bethel College in 1955 and received an MBA from Wichita State University in 1962. During the fall semester in 1969, while he attended a seminar on “Change in Higher Education” at Claremont graduate school, the family lived in Montclair, Calif. He was employed by Bethel College in various capacities in the Business Office for 18 years, leaving in 1970, after which he worked at First Kansas Life Insurance Company, followed by real estate sales.

Hartzel enjoyed doing things outdoors and with family, such as annual summer vacations in Colorado and serving as scoutmaster in scouting.

Always a strong believer in community service, he served as mayor of the City of North Newton (1977-1987) and on the boards for Kidron Bethel Retirement Services, Bethel Deaconess Hospital and Home, Chamber of Commerce, Harvey County Economic Development, Sand Creek Watershed, and Newton/North Newton Planning and Zoning. He was treasurer at the Bethel College Mennonite Church. From 1993 to 1995, Hartzel and Ilene served two years as volunteers in Akron, Pa., at Self-Help Crafts (now Ten Thousand Villages). In later years, he enjoyed volunteering at the Et Cetera Shop.

A persistent raconteur, Hartzel always left laughs and jokes and good friends in his wake.

He had a long-standing interest in genealogy, family history and Mennonite history. He and Ilene visited the former Mennonite settlements in the Ukraine and took other trips to Europe and many parts of the United States, Canada and Mexico. During his later years, much time was spent reading, working on genealogy and thinking about matters related to theology. He also spent many hours listening to and watching Great Courses DVDs, a number of which contain revelations by scientists about our universe and our planet Earth.

He is survived by his wife, Ilene; sons, Rodney A. (Elizabeth Kintner) and daughters Laurel and Jennifer; Charles A (Janie Becker); son, Adam and daughter Nicole (Terry) Asay, and great grandchildren Arlo, Alec and Amelia; William J. (Lori Voran); and daughters, Becky and Rochelle; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

A celebration of life will be held on Sunday, July 25, at Bethel College Mennonite Church. Memorial contributions may be made to Bethel College, Bethel College Mennonite Church or Kidron Bethel Village.

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