Gary Edwin SchmidtkeGary Edwin Schmidtke, 76, formerly of Esko, Minn., died Friday, Oct. 21, 2011, in Lakeville, Minn.
Gary Edwin Schmidtke, 76, formerly of Esko, Minn., died Friday, Oct. 21, 2011, in Lakeville, Minn. Gary was born Aug. 13, 1935, in Wheaton, Minn., to Edwin and Edith Schmidtke. He graduated from Wheaton High School in 1953. Following graduation he attended Moorhead State University and graduated with his bachelor's degree in 1957. There he met and married Afton Marie Larson. They were married on June 16, 1957, in Shelly, Minn. In 1969, Gary received his master's degree in music from St. Cloud State University.
Gary was the vocal and instrumental director in the Ulen, Minn., Public School from 1957 to 1959 and then at the Edgeley, N.D., Public School from 1959 to 1966. He was the instrumental director at the Fosston, Minn., Public School from 1966 to 1968. He was the instrumental assistant at St. Cloud University while obtaining his master's degree from 1968 to 1969. Gary was the instrumental director at Esko School from 1969 until he retired in 1997 after 28 years in Esko and 40 years in total of teaching students music.
Gary was the director of the church choir and singer and director of the Men's Quartet at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in Esko for 20 years. He also directed the Church Community Choir (Esko, Carlton and Cloquet) for three years.
After retirement, Gary and Afton spent winters in Mission, Texas. From 1998 to 2008, Gary was an active member of five music groups in Rio Grande Valley, Texas. He was director of the Senior Ambassadors Male Chorus for seven years; part-time director and trombone player of the Winter Texan Orchestra for five years; part-time director and tenor in the Men of a Chord Barbershop group plus quartet for two years; trombone player in the Swing Street Dance Band in Rio Grande Valley for three years; and trombone player in the Rio Grande Valley Concert Band for eight years.
He was preceded in death by his parents.
Gary is survived by his wife of 54 years, Afton of Lakeville; son, Mark (Susan Danaher) Schmidtke of Shoreview, Minn.; daughter, Beth (Chris) Umphress of Apple Valley, Minn.; granddaughters, Nicole (Tyler) Lackas of Liberal, Kan., and Danielle Umphress of Chanhassen, Minn.; grandsons, Jesse Umphress of Apple Valley, and Zachary and Nicholas Schmidtke, both of Shoreview; and one great-granddaughter, Austin Elizabeth of Chanhassen.
Visitation: 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26, in Atkins-Northland Funeral Home, Cloquet, Minn., and Thursday, Oct. 27, from 10 a.m. until the 11 a.m. funeral service at St. Matthews Lutheran Church in Esko, followed by lunch in the fellowship hall.
Memorials may be made to the Alzheimer's Association, the Esko Music Boosters, or St. Matthew's Lutheran Church.
Arrangements entrusted to Atkins-Northland Funeral Home, Cloquet, 218-879-7184.
To sign the guest book and leave an online tribute, see www.atkinsnorthlandfuneralhome.com .
October 27, 2011 ~ Pine Journal, Cloquet, Minn.