Keep the memories alive of those who leave legacies

Managing Editor

John “Spud” Edling, 81, passed away Sunday, April 16, and those closest to him will forever remember the ways he touched their lives and know of his heavy involvement in the community.
I never met the man, who lived in Brooklyn Park with his wife until they moved west in 1977 to Clear Lake, where he and his brother operated Edling Brothers Potato Farm from 1963 until retiring in 1995.
I appreciated that Sherburne County Commissioner Felix Schmiesing on May 16 shared a little about the legacy this man left. Schmiesing said he did many things and noted what he felt were some of his notable contributions.
Edling was member of Clear Lake American Legion Post 354. He was a charter member of the Clear Lake Lions and was very active, serving as president, district governor and international director.
His obituary reported he was proud to be a Lion and made many friends in the Lions group. He was also a member of the Sherburne County Fair Board and the National Potato Board.
Schmiesing said he helped get it so Lions clubs in Sherburne County can serve beer at the Sherburne County Fair, leaving a nice legacy as the beer stand raises a lot of money for the fair every year and half of the proceeds go to Lions clubs, which pump the money back into the communities.
“A lot of people benefit from that,” Schmiesing said.
Sometimes people never realize how much of an impact they have on people or a community. Such might have been the case with Walt Schumacher, Elk River’s first high school hockey coach.
He died earlier this year and it gave people in the Elk River area a chance to reflect on his legacy. Schumacher dropped a puck at the opening ceremonies of Hockey Day Minnesota 2014 when it was in Elk River.
When he was invited to the affair, he questioned who would want to talk to an 89-year-old man. He wasn’t going to go, his son Steve Schumacher said.
He didn’t realize what a spectacle it would be and the masses would love to hear his stories of Elk River days gone by. Hockey Day brought Elk River back to its high school hockey roots. Schumacher was one of the first roots that came off the seed. Kenneth Parker, who Parker Elementary School is named after, said to Schumacher they needed to start a boys athletic program. The choices were wrestling and hockey. Schumacher told Parker he knew nothing about wrestling, so it would have to be hockey.
This humble man was remembered as a Purple Heart recipient who had incredible stories of surviving the Battle of the Bulge and World War II. Schumacher reportedly credited growing up in Minnesota winters as a key to saving his life, whereas many of his buddies perished. He knew to keep moving, former Elk River High School football coach Terry McLean said.
Schumacher was also remembered as a teacher, the Elks’ first hockey coach and co-founder of the Elks Quarterback Club along with Mag Johnson.
Nancy Schumacher, a daughter of Walt Schumacher’s, said its important to remember such things.
“Sometimes we take things for granted, that they have always been there,” she said. “Somebody has to start things.”
Walt Schumacher was the winner of an Americanism Award from the Elk River American Legion and the owner and operator of the Schumacher Beverage Co. He also patented the Schumacher Shocker, a football blocking machine.
I’m told he considered his coaching days as some of his best days, and he regretted getting out of it to run his beverage business.
He taught his athletes “how to win and how to live,” according to John Greenslit, who played under Schumacher at Morton High School before earning a scholarship to play football at the University of Minnesota. The pair kept in touch for 60-plus years with Schumacher’s praises still carrying a great deal of weight for Greenslit as the years wore on. He spoke at Schumacher’s funeral.
“It’s amazing how many people he touched with an encouraging word or a smile,” Steve Schumacher proudly said of his dad.
Schumacher enjoyed following Elk River football’s state title run this past year and the Elk River girls basketball state title run. He wished he had been down there.
Had he been able to make it into a seat at U.S. Bank Stadium or Williams Arena, anybody who sat next to him would have been wise to ask him about his earlier days. Humility might have prevented him from sharing as much as he could. That is often the case with those who leave vast legacies.
Sometimes, it’s up to those around these people to do that. I thank the people who take time to do it. — Jim Boyle, editor