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Michael 'Mike' Schmitt, age 63

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Michael “Mike” Schmitt, age 63 of Waucoma, died Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024, at the Gundersen Palmer Lutheran Hospital in West Union.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Waucoma, with the Rev. Nick Radloff celebrating the Mass. 

Friends may greet the family from 3 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2, 2024, at the Waucoma Event Center. Visitation continues an hour prior to Mass at the church on Saturday. 

Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Hugeback-Johnson Funeral Home & Crematory in Waucoma. Online condolences for the Schmitt family may be let a

Michael Mark Schmitt was born on July 22, 1960, to Bernard and Victoria (Kuennen) Schmitt at Palmer Lutheran Hospital in West Union. He was born the seventh child of eleven siblings.

Mike brought a lot of change to the Schmitt family. He was the first son, preceded by five older sisters. He was dressed up in girls’ clothing, curlers and even perms in his hair. As he approached kindergarten, he did not want to go to school because he was his dad, Bernie’s right hand man at the Waucoma Feed Mill. Mike rode in the truck with his dad on deliveries. 

He was an ambitious young boy who did lawn mowing for several families with a push mower, was a Waterloo Courier paperboy, a carry-out boy at the local McKay Grocery Store, an altar server at St. Mary’s Church, and Mike was known to have the fastest silver bike in town!

Mike was so proud of his hometown community of Waucoma. Mike enjoyed living by the Turkey River. Starting at a young age, he loved to fish and camp often along the river with his friends. He was compared to “Huck Finn,” as he made a raft to float the river and he had a small fishing boat that made many trips up and down the Mill Pond. Mike rode his bicycle everywhere he went. When he was 16, he bought his own car, a 1968 Chevy Impala, which he was very proud of.

Mike was a 1979 graduate of Turkey Valley High School where he often found himself getting into trouble with his classmates. He participated in football and track in school and then decided to get a job at Farmer’s Butter & Dairy/AMPI, where he worked for 20 years until the business closed.

Mike met the love of his life, Janet Balk, when she was 14 years old. He saw Janet walking after church one day with a white sundress on and he told his buddy “that is the girl I’m going to marry.” Mike and Janet were united in marriage on June 22, 1985. What a party they had! They lived on Janet’s grandparents’ farm outside of St. Lucas for five years, until they moved to Waucoma in 1990 to the “Schmitt family home.” This was Mike’s home all his life. Their marriage was blessed with three children — Sara, Adam and Ben.

For the past 38 years, Mike and Janet made a great life in Waucoma. Mike introduced himself wherever he went as “Mike Schmitt, Waucoma, Iowa.” He worked at Lynch Livestock on the maintenance crew, where he enjoyed daily challenges. Janet referred to Mike as “McGyver” because he could fix anything.

Mike was a lifelong member of St. Mary’s Church in Waucoma, where he received all of his sacraments. He was active as an usher, choir member and, along with Janet, did marriage prep for young couples for the past 20 years.

Mike was one of the original Waucoma First Responders and served for 42 years. Mike also was a devout volunteer in his community in many ways. He was known for using his golf cart with the grandkids to water the community flowers.

Mike and Janet (The Waucoma Kid & Queen of the Turkey) enjoyed being outdoors and had a love for nature. They spent many hours canoeing and agate (rock) hunting. They averaged around 30 trips per year. In recent years, they have been Ranger riding along the Turkey River. They have experienced many pieces of heaven on earth on these journeys.

Mike enjoyed making bonfires. He loved sitting by the bonfire with friends and family telling stories. He was an avid fisherman and enjoyed talking about the fish he caught and the friends he was with. Mike was a great friend to all. He loved hearing about their family and who they were related to. He always wanted to know who your grandparents were and where you were from.

He loved taking the grandkids on golf cart rides and giving them treats, often a Mr. Freeze. Mike loved sleeping in his bed, often sleeping in on Saturday mornings, only to be awakened by grandchildren prodding him.

Mike had an immense love for his family, friends and the community of Waucoma. This is the life story of the “Waucoma Kid,” Mike Schmitt, as told with a grateful heart by his beloved wife, Janet. Mike and Janet’s children remember a quote spoken often by their dad, “Run while you can!” The laughter, the stories, the service and the love that Mike Schmitt from Waucoma, Iowa imparted on countless lives will be forever remembered and dearly missed.

Mike is survived by his wife, Janet; daughter, Sara (Justin) Haught; sons, Adam (Jill) and Ben (Kalyn), both of Waucoma; seven beautiful grandchildren, Winnie, Millie and Otto Haught, Jacob, Hazel and Vera Schmitt, and Corbin Schmitt; siblings, Gloria Wagner of West Union, Sally (Michael) Hensley of Waucoma, Susy (Ron) Kuennen of St. Lucas, Debbie Kapnisis of West Union, Kathy (Brian) Dunt of West Union, Mary (Ken) Bouska of Chatfield, Minnesota, Mark (Karen) Schmitt of New Hampton, Marlene Bouska of Hawkeye, and Marvin (Traci) Schmitt of Waucoma; mother-in-law, Wilma Balk of Waucoma; brothers-in-law, Ken (Emi) Balk of Marion and Greg (Angela) Balk of Waucoma; and many nieces and nephews who knew him as “Uncle Mike.”

He was preceded in death by his parents, Bernard and Victoria; brother in infancy, John; brothers-in-law, Paul Wagner, Gus Kapnisis and Terry Bouska; nephews, Brady Kuennen, Lee Einck and Jonathan Bouska (in infancy); niece, Taylor Bouska; father-in-law, Duane “Fritz” Balk; sister-in-law, Karla Faber Niebes; and brother-in-law, Jim Faber.

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