Howard Schmidtke, 94, of St. James died on Saturday, August 18, 2018

Howard Schmidtke, 94, of St. James died on Saturday, August 18, 2018 at Pleasant View Good Samaritan Society in St. James. Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, August 22, at St. James Catholic Church in St. James with Father Timothy Hall as celebrant. Visitation will be one hour before Mass at the church on Wednesday. Burial will be at Calvary Cemetery in St. James with military honors provided by the St. James Veterans Honor Guard. You may send condolences online to the family at www.sturmfh.com. Arrangements with Sturm Funeral Home in St. James.

Howard G. Schmidtke was born on a farm Aug. 2, 1924 to Laura and George Schmidtke. He was the third of five children. He went to a country school until the 6th grade and then attended the public school in Morgan. Howard was a very busy young man - as a dutiful son he worked on the Gilfillan farm near Morgan before and after school each day to help with the family finances, all the while being a student and three-sport star athlete. Howard graduated from Morgan High School in 1942, enlisted in the army the fall of 1943 and was sent to Camp Roberts in California. He married Audrey Ladd (of Sleepy Eye) at Camp Roberts Feb. 2, 1944. After boot camp and Army training he was sent to the European Theater of War with the 2nd Armored Division, landing in Anzio as a replacement soldier. He spent two years fighting in the war in Europe, mainly in Italy. His division was known as “Hell on Wheels” and they played an important role during WWII in Sicily and contributing to the liberation of Italy. He was in Milan when Benito Mussolini’s corpse was hung in the town square. Howard came home from the war early in 1946 and used the GI bill to attend what was then called Mankato Teacher’s College to earn a degree in education. His first teaching job was in Lake Benton, in 1949 for a meager salary of $2,900. While in Lake Benton he taught industrial arts, coached (football, basketball and baseball), played amateur baseball and managed to continue his education at the University of North Dakota all while supporting his growing family. He relocated his family to St. James in 1966 where he continued to teach and coach until his retirement in 1984. Howard and Audrey moved to Arizona for a six-year career in real estate. But they missed their family in Minnesota too much and decided a more fulfilling life awaited them back home. They have lived in St. James, ever since. During his career in education, Howard coached and officiated baseball, basketball, football, and wrestling. His teams made six appearances in state baseball tournaments and won two championships. He has been recognized by three baseball Hall of Fame organizations. His teaching was recognized too by being a finalist for Minnesota Teacher of the Year. Howard was a ‘kid whisperer’ and he made a difference in the lives of countless students and athletes. He was known for his strong sense of right and wrong. One of his former athletes said “’Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things’ Howie understood the difference and did both well. Never will he be forgotten.” Howard was widely known for his tremendous love of his family, sports, sweets, and a good cigar.

He is survived by 9 children, 36 grandchildren, 45 great grandchildren, one great-great grandchild, and Audrey - the love of his life and his wife of 74 years. He was preceded in death by his four siblings and daughter Robin Osland who passed away October 13th, 2017. God has now taken him out to the ball park, an epic coach for the Field of Dreams. Job well done good and faithful servant.