The family of Walter Schmidt, and indeed, the Barrhead community, and far beyond, are mourning the passing of Walter Schmidt on Nov 25 at the age of 87 years. His funeral was held this past Saturday Dec 3, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Barrhead.
In his obituary, it was noted Walter’s faith and family meant everything to him. He will be forever loved and remembered by Emi, his wife of 65 years, and children, Brad (Michelle) Schmidt, Shelley (Bruce) Pusch and Gary (Lies) Schmidt. He will also be remembered by his grandchildren and great grandchildren, other family members and although not noted in the obituary, many, many friends and business acquaintances in the Barrhead community and far beyond.
Walter was born in Newbrook, AB and moved to Barrhead at an early age where he spent his life dedicated to his family, community, and to building a business.
His obituary very appropriately noted, “Walter was a passionate cattleman his whole life and now God has called him home to greener pastures.”
On July 13, 2019, Schmidt Livestock Ltd. celebrated 60 years at their feedlot business location north east of Barrhead on Highway 18, and from the article following that special day, we learn more of his life and business venture and the timelines from the beginning to current days.
Walter, and his business partner in Schmidt Livestock Ltd., Gilbert, first worked with their father, Albert, at A. Schmidt & Sons buying station in the town of Barrhead. Farmers brought in hogs for transport and sale to plants in Edmonton. The business then started to expand to buying and selling cattle and trucking. Five days a week they hauled hogs and cattle to Edmonton to the five major packing plants operating there at the time. On the return trip, they would bring back coal, feed and fertilizer for customers.
In 1959, Walter and his wife Emi bought out the A. Schmidt & Sons buying station from his father, and began as Double S Livestock. They purchased the business with help of Emi’s father. His brother Gilbert began working with them as a trucker at that time.
In 1961, Walter and Emi paid back her father’s investment, and re-established as Walter Schmidt Livestock Dealer & Trucker. In 1964, they incorporated and renamed the business to Schmidt Livestock Ltd. It was at that time Gilbert bought a share in the business as well. His wife Elsie joined the business in 1993 to help out with the office and business needs of the growing business.
When Schmidt Livestock Ltd. incorporated in 1964, they purchased the land where the feedlot currently exists, and established a small number of pens, starting with 200 feeder cattle.
In 1974, the buying station in town burned down, and a new office and processing area was set up out at the feedlot, and all operations of Schmidt Livestock Ltd. moved out there.
Since that time, the business has remained in the current location, growing and expanding.
When Schmidt Livestock Ltd. celebrated their 60 years in 2019, they were feeding approximately 25,000 to 30,000 head of cattle per year, purchasing cattle from local and surrounding area cattle farmers. They also were purchasing 1.8 to two million bushels of barley annually from area farmers. It was noted that would be in the neighbourhood of 750-1,000 B- train trucks, or the equivalent of 375-500 railcar loads.
In addition to that, they were also planting and harvesting 8,000 acres of their own grain crops, putting much of that into their silage pits.
Walter told this reporter at that time in 2019, they were buying and selling between 55,000 and 65,000 head of cattle per year, and in the previous year, had sold 57,000 head.
The business began with five employees - Walter, Emi, and brothers Henry, Gilbert and Leonard Schmidt. Leonard also trucked for the business in the early years.
In 2019, that small company of five had grown to 22 permanent employees - a large number of those being family members - and as high as 30 during the summer. In addition, four lease operators were hired for trucking.
At the 2019 celebration of 60 years, Walter also recalled his first business venture with cattle as a young man. He purchased some steer calves for 12 cents per pound, keeping them at his dad’s place, hand feeding them chop and hay. He later sold them for 20 cents per pound. He said this first venture into cattle buying and feeding cattle is what sparked his interest.
From the day when he and Emi first began their business in 1959 as Double S Livestock and to the present Schmidt Livestock Ltd., cattle was Walter’s business passion right up to his passing a little over a week ago on Nov 25.
With family members involved in all aspects of the business today, Schmidt Livestock Ltd. will no doubt continue. But it simply won’t be quite the same without Walter’s presence. His family has lost a dear loved one who will miss his hugs, smiles and laughter. Neighbours and friends for many miles around will also miss those smiles and laughter, and warm handshakes; and they offer to the family their heartfelt condolences.