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St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church
Tuesday October 13th, 2020
6:00pm - 8:00pm

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Memorial Gathering

Lamb Funeral Home
Wednesday October 14th, 2020

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Dean Allen Schmidt

Family Tribute:

He set the first stake in the prairie. That’s what my dad always told people about Circle E Feedlot. The feedlot was his life for six decades. Work for my dad was something of a religion. He poured himself into every project he undertook. Many times I’ve seen him come up with an idea, draw it out, go to the shop and make it, and then install it. Beyond these more creative endeavors, he liked “getting the job done.” He knew how to do a lot things: welding, plumbing, carpentry, heavy equipment. The list goes on. Much of this work was dangerous. He didn’t always escape those dangers, but injury or illness did not stop him. Even after he supposedly “retired” in the early 2000s, he still “consulted” at the feedlot, now named Windmill Ranch. He was working there as of several weeks ago, before his final decline began.

Anyone from Potwin and surrounding areas knows that he worked tirelessly for the community as well from the early 1980s onward. I found this somewhat of a surprise at first. Early in his life, dad had never been outgoing, but in 1981 (as I recall) the feedlot changed hands. We had been living on land the feedlot owned, and in a matter of a couple weeks, my parents were cast out of the country and into the metropolis of Potwin. I figured dad would hate it, but Potwin became another project. He got himself elected to city council in short order, and then he became the mayor. He’s been in that job for thirty-three years. Beyond that, he joined the Lions Club. Bit of a shocker there. But of course he threw himself into that as well, eventually becoming a district governor in the late 90s. Then there was Kansas Pride, Plant a Row, and who knows what else.

Work and community occupied much of his time, but fishing took up the rest. And for him, fishing was work. He loved crappie fishing and limb lining for channel and flathead. If all else failed, he’d catch a bunch of tiny bluegill. Anything to “stretch the line.” Of course he could not just pursue the sport; he also started up a custom crappie jig business. In the 1970s, he operated a fish farm for several years on top of all the work at the feedlot. He also enjoyed other outdoor stuff: camping, gardening, and hunting (early in life).

Dad grew up rural, Mennonite, and poor. Much of his life went to overcoming that. I think he probably wished he had more children, but my parents could not have them. I was it. But he gave me all the time he had. The same goes for my mom. He loved her more than anything, and her passing in 2015 knocked him down in a way he could not fully beat. He’s with her now, probably organizing some new project.


Dean’s life began on April 1, 1938, the son of Alfred and Alma (Boese) Schmidt near Galva, Kansas. He married Vera June Unruh on April 22, 1956 at Eden Mennonite Church in Burns, Kansas. They enjoyed almost 59 years together before her passing in March of 2015.


Dean worked most of his adult life at Circle E Feedlot near Potwin, retiring as Operations Manager. He served as the mayor of Potwin for 33 years. He enjoyed memberships with the Lions Club, Kansas PRIDE, Plant a Row for the Hungry, and numerous governing boards in Butler County.


His loving family includes his son and his wife, Jim Schmidt and Andrea Smalley of Nora, Illinois; grandchildren, Mike Banghart (Holly) and Andrew Banghart; great-granddaughter, Clarrisa Banghart; brothers, Clinton Schmidt (Kathleen) of Brainerd, Kansas and Alfred “Toby” Schmidt, Jr. (Shirley) of Whitewater, Kansas; sisters, Helen Russell and Carrie Gutscher both of Newton, Kansas, Esther “Jeannie” Koehn of Lamar, Missouri.


He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Vera; and a brother in childhood, Warren. Dean passed away peacefully on Friday, October 9, 2020, at the age of 82 years old.


His family will gather with friends on Tuesday, October 13, from 6-8 p.m. at Lamb Funeral Home, 120 S. Main, Whitewater. There will be a private family graveside. On Wednesday, October 14, at 4:30 p.m., the family would like to invite the community to a memorial gathering at the outdoor Lions Club shelter at 201 N. Miller, Potwin, Kansas for fingerfood and fellowship.


Memorial contributions in Dean’s name may be directed to the Potwin Lions Club in care of Lamb Funeral Home, P.O. Box 358, Whitewater, Kansas 67154. Please sign his online guest book and leave a memory of Dean at www.ymzfh.com









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I am a cousin of Dean's. I remember him coming to visit us, his big smile and hearty laugh.
Will always treasure those memories.

Carol (Schmidt)Holdeman Oct 17 2020 12:00 AM

My late husband, David Lowe, became the new manager of Circle E Feedlot in 2001. The first person who held out his hand and said "Welcome to Potwin" was Dean Schmidt. From that moment on for the next 16 years, Dean became David's right arm about the feedlot. He was always positive and ready to help with any and all projects. He and David eventually became fishing buddies and our friendship with Dean and Vera grew over the years. Vera was a special sweet lady and I remember her Christian book collection and her community service beside her husband. We loved the invitations to their home to eat fish and the yummy garden vegetables. I know that Dean and David are in God's Home, yakking about cattle and fishing and Vera is cooking something sensational! God bless you, Schmidt Family. Aliece Lowe

Aliece Lowe Oct 16 2020 12:00 AM

Dean was a very kind man and one of the hardest working men I've ever seen. He was a go-getter. He always had a big smile, just like the one in the picture. Potwin will really have a void.

Raye Ann Oct 13 2020 12:00 AM

Sorry for your loss, I meet Dean while on the Kansas PRIDE board. What a wonderful, caring man. We talked wine making since both of us enjoyed that hobby. He showed me some of his jigs that he made and was so proud of them. His passion for Potwin and the community was very inspirational. He will truly be missed.
Lynne Berry, Leonardville

Lynne Berry Oct 13 2020 12:00 AM

Farewell My Friend: On Friday, Shari and I received word that Past District Governor, Lion Dean Schmidt had passed away. What an amazing Lion and more importantly a dear friend PDG Dean was. Joining the Potwin Lions Club in October 1984, he served as Club President and District Zone Chairman multiple times. In July 1998, Lion Dean began serving his year as the K-1 District Governor. I had both the privilege and honor of serving as his District Secretary/Treasurer, then the following year he served as my District Secretary/Treasurer. For two years we worked hand-in-glove, serving the District K-1 Lions. PDG Dean and Vera even traveled to the Lions Clubs International Convention held in San Diego (1999) and was present to "pull my tab" as I was sworn in as District Governor. PDG Dean also served on the Kansas Lions Band Committee for several years and volunteered as a chaperone for multiple Kansas Lions State Band Camps. His commitment to service was not limited to just serving as a Lion. but also his local community as Mayor (1987-present) and on various local and county committees.

Lion Dean never turned his back on anyone, if you needed help, he was there. Unable to complete his schooling, Lion Dean worked hard to get his GED, and Lion Shari and I were there in 2001 as he was awarded his GED at Butler County Community College. I never found anything that he could not do. Having grown up in difficult times Lion Dean may not have been a wealthy man in the sense of dollars and cents, but was wealthy beyond imagination by the friends he had. So here is a toast to a dear friend, the work is done, time to take your place with Vera and all the other angels in heaven.

Hans Neidhardt Oct 13 2020 12:00 AM

I had the pleasure to work with Dean the past three summers. I very much enjoyed being around him because he was always teaching me something new. Form pulling well pumps, to welding, to saddling a fence post, and running heavy equipment. Since I worked only in the summers, my time around him was always too short. I will miss his wife grin and his go-getum attitude! Sorry for your loss!

Fred Holthaus Oct 13 2020 12:00 AM

I am one of Dean's nieces. I remember the time that we would meet up at his house for holiday gatherings and enjoy the many stories he would share. What got my attention was his hearty laughter and his smile. He was greatly loved by family and friends and will truly be missed.

Kimberly Oct 13 2020 12:00 AM

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Friends and Family Nov 30 -0001 12:00 AM