March 12, 1926 - June 14, 2019

 

Mass of Christian Burial will be 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Rice for Ralph N. Schmitt, 93, of Royalton, who passed away at Quiet Oaks Hospice House in St. Augusta on Friday evening. Rev. Thomas Becker will officiate and burial will be at the parish cemetery in Rice. Friends and relatives may call from 4:00 – 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 18, 2019 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and also one hour prior to services at the church on Wednesday morning in Rice. Parish prayers will be at 7:00 p.m. followed by Knights of Columbus Bishop Busch Council #9138 at 7:30. 4th Degree Father Pierz Assembly will stand honor guard on Tuesday at the church in Rice. Arrangements are entrusted to Williams Dingmann Family Funeral Home in Sauk Rapids.

Ralph Schmitt was born on March 12, 1926 in Watkins, MN to Nick and Anna (Donnay) Schmitt. He was raised on the sand plains just north of Rice. He was a living time line through historical events which many have only read about. He was born just prior to the start of the Great Depression. As a teenager, he survived the 1940 Armistice Day blizzard. He graduated from Cathedral High School in 1944, just before D-Day in the push to end WWII.

At the age of 21, Ralph’s father died suddenly and he was left to run the family farm. Farming wasn’t his first choice, but it was the right choice once he found the perfect partner in his wife, Mary Lou Preusser. They met at the Benton County Fairgrounds ballroom and were married September 25, 1954. Together they raised six children and grew the farm. Farming was a hard profession in the 1950’s but Ralph and his neighbors worked together sharing equipment and labor. Ralph and other Langola Township farmers joined together to bring East Central Electric power line further west to their rural area. This became the livewire that allowed agriculture to modernize their small central MN community. Ralph’s desire to see progress across his farm pushed him to implement new technology and ideas. He, his wife and two sons started a registered Holstein herd in 1973 which would become known around the world as Ralma Holsteins.

Ralph was a lifelong learner and explorer. He and Mary Lou traveled all over the U.S. and Europe through extension trips. He was always curious to see how other people achieved success. His favorite trip was to walk the Great Wall of China when he was in his 70’s. When he retired from farming in 1988, he found new fields to cultivate. He was an avid gardener, always happy to share his produce with family and friends. He was a serious fisherman. He enjoyed biking uptown Royalton for coffee with his friends. His favorite retirement project was pulling his 1952 black Ford pick-up truck out of the weeds and bringing it back to life. He and Mary Lou could be found with the Lone Eagle Car Club every summer at area parades.

Ralph served as an assessor for Langola Township, the Advisory Board from Bremer Bank and Little Rock Creamery. He was a Faith Navigator, 4th Degree Knights of Columbus and a lifelong member of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church of Rice, singing in the choir for many years. He was a regular blood donor reaching the 5 plus gallon mark! Ralph was quick with a smile and always had a funny story or joke to share. He laughed easily and no one was a stranger for very long. Even when his eyesight faded, he continued to learn and read with audio books from the library. He helped create the solid foundation of faith, family and farm that his family continues to build upon today.

Survivors include his loving wife of 64 years, Mary Lou of Royalton; children, Joan (Bruce) Gasser and Marie Popp, both of Sartell, Al (Brenda) of Royalton, Mark (Natalie) of Rice, Judy (Randy) Borgerding of Eden Prairie; 16 grandchildren; 7 great grandchildren and sister, Sr. Cecilia Schmitt, OFS of Little Falls. He was preceded in death by his parents; daughter, Theresa in 1974 and his brother, Tom in 2018.

We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the staff at Quiet Oaks Hospice House and CHI Hospice agency. You truly made Ralph's last days the most comfortable that is humanly possible. You all are amazing caregivers and became his trusted friends!