Nature 20

Thomas Edward Schmidt

September 7, 2021

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Thomas Edward Schmidt, a life-long resident of North Branch Minnesota passed away peacefully on September 7, 2021. He was surrounded by music and love and the sounds of nature outside his window. Tom was born in Braham Minnesota on February 2, 1956. He was 65 years old.

A renaissance man to all who knew him, Tom inspired everyone he met. A farm boy from birth and living on the land, Tom developed reverence for the natural world that stayed with him and guided him his entire life. Tom’s life was deeply affected by the farm crisis of the 1980’s and the loss of the family farm. This experience helped to shape the man he would become. Coming from large scale crop production he changed course to become a small-scale organic farmer. He became a student and master of self -sufficiency.  Through work and travel in third world countries, he gained insight into a subsistence way of life that he adopted for his own. “Take only what you need and give back what you can” was his philosophy for living.

Buying back 20 acres of his original family farm Tom built his own solar powered brick home and went off grid before solar power was a common thing. He heated his home with the oaks that surrounded him and planted hundreds of pine trees as wildlife habitat and to replace any paper products that he might use in his life. He replaced grass with native prairie and became an avid and expert birder. Living lightly and in concert with the natural world was the one true compass that guided him.

A champion problem solver, his hungry intellect led him to build, fix and undertake projects others wouldn’t consider. He taught himself how to do Eskimo rolls in his kayak, make perfect pizza crusts, play the guitar and most recently how to do coding on the computer. He often created tools that were specific to the job. One of his passions in recent times was brain tanning deer hides with traditional Native American practices. Using old-style scrapers to take deer hair off, he’d remake the worn-out tools with materials at hand. He bent saplings from his land to create stretching frames and built an outdoor stove to smoke the hides. He was excited to use his little, old school sewing machine to create clothing for himself.

Reserved and gentle by nature, Tom could have a mischievous sense of humor. His dry wit added to the adventures he and Lynette shared including: hiking in Alaska, kayaking on Lake Superior, camping in the Apostle Islands and canoeing the Sunrise River. Together they sought out new experiences, like singing at the Circlesong workshops in up- state New York.

Sharing a love of the outdoors, they banded raptors at Cedar Grove in Wisconsin and restored a 70 year- old cabin. In his presence family and friends felt safe and well cared for. Lynette’s children and grandchildren consider his presence in their lives a great gift.

He is survived by his partner of 28 years, Lynette Anderson, daughters, Andrea and Theresa Schmidt, and grandson Nolan Peal. He is also survived by his sisters, Sharon Schmidt, Pat (Chuck) Pojanowski, brother, Bob Schmidt and beloved cousin Doug Anderson. He leaves behind a bevy of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends all of whom will miss him very much.

Please join us for a celebration of Tom’s life on October 10, 2021 at 1:00pm at Belwin Conservancy’s Education Center 1553 Stagecoach Trail So. Afton MN 55001

Please bring a memory of Tom to share.

Memorials may be sent in memory of Tom Schmidt to Belwin Conservancy 1553 Stagecoach Trail Afton MN 55001




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