Greg and I journeyed to the small farming community of Minier in Illinois today, to join family members in honoring and celebrating the life of a dear man. Dale Schmidgall was the husband of Greg’s cousin Linda. He is survived by Linda, his six children and one granddaughter, and by his mother, two brothers and two sisters.
I am deeply grateful that I saw Dale 18 months ago. He and Linda drove to Arkansas to visit Greg’s dad while he was hospitalized. They stayed for the memorial service, after Dad Moore passed away. It was wonderfully healing to spend time with Dale and the rest of the family, catching up, telling stories, dining together.
I had not seen Dale in many years. And yet he quietly offered us his strength and wisdom, his humor and perspective, his love and affection. Although the circumstances were sorrowful, I appreciated the opportunity to get reacquainted with him.
Today at his service I experienced a sense of shock over his sudden passing and his absence was keenly felt. We were gathered to remember and celebrate him. I knew that. And yet I kept looking for his smiling face among the crowd. How much more so is his family grieving the loss of husband, father and grandfather. Indeed, the whole community is missing this remarkable man. It made me wish I had known him better, and had enjoyed his company more often.
This is what I do know about Dale…
He was a man of deep faith. I discovered today that he truly was a pillar in his community and church. Dale put deliberate actions with his beliefs. He served through his church, caring for widows, and giving his time and resources to make a difference in the lives of others. Dale made a joyful noise regularly, singing in a quartet. In a touching tribute, the three remaining members of the group sang during Dale’s service.
He was a loving family man, devoted to his wife and their six children and one granddaughter. What a legacy Dale leaves. His three sons each served in the US Marines. His daughters genuinely care for others. By his example Dale taught his children to keep learning and growing, to walk in faith, to work hard. He loved geography, travel, trivia, history, music and sports. His kids do too.
It was a joy to watch his family today, unashamed as they shed tender tears for the man who loved them and provided for them. Dale was honored through the telling of their stories and the sharing of memories that were often humorous.
And this man put others at ease. Because he knew who he was and was at ease with himself, he could extend that same grace to others. Dale knew how to relax into the moment and enjoy it fully. He was kind, thoughtful, selfless and joyful. I can’t think about Dale without picturing a wide smile on his face and a glint of mirth in his eyes.
A video was shared during the service, of Paul Harvey reciting his speech, So God Made a Farmer. The opening lines are, “And on the 8th day God looked down on His planned paradise and said, ‘I need a catetaker’. So God made a farmer.”
Along with being a long time State Farm supervisor, Dale was a farmer his whole life. He was a caretaker of the earth, his farmlands and the properties of others, mowing yards and tending to the church’s grounds.
He was a caretaker of souls, loving his wife, nurturing and raising his family, playing with his granddaughter, serving and blessing others in so many ways.
And he was a caretaker of his own soul, walking in faith with God, enjoying who he was created to be, savoring life.
God said, “I need a caretaker”. He made Dale.
He is loved. He is missed. He is remembered. He is celebrated. We will be caretakers, in his name.