Robert John Schmidgall
December 31, 1913 to April 8, 2018
Robert John Schmidgall, age 104, beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend to many, passed away Sunday at home from congestive heart failure, with his loving wife and family members at his side.
Robert was born in Elgin, Illinois to Christian and Sophia (Burger) Schmidgall, the tenth of eleven children. He worked on his father’s dairy farm until age 23 when he came to Oregon, where he met Eleanor Kuenzi. They were married in February 1941 and recently celebrated their 77th wedding anniversary. He called her his sweetheart until the very end.
After living in Illinois for five years, Robert and Eleanor and two children moved to the Silverton area. Here, their remaining eight children were born. Robert worked as a farm hand and lumber mill worker before becoming a builder in the early 1950s. Over the next 55 or 60 years, he built houses, hog barns, hay sheds, machine sheds, an apartment building, office quarters and gazebos throughout the Willamette Valley.
Robert also remodeled countless homes and other buildings, with no job being too small or too big. He was known for his ingenuity and generosity in responding to plumbing, electrical and other home emergencies of all kinds, day or night. At age 97, he was the oldest registered contractor in Oregon. At the same time, he farmed his 40 acres and did custom combining for several area farmers, until retiring from farming in 1988. He continued his carpentry work until nearly 100 years old.
Robert loved the outdoors, and enjoyed traveling to the coast and mountains. At age 25, he climbed Mt Hood. He and Eleanor hiked many trail miles in the Cascades, with their last hike being to Todd Lake, a favorite destination, when Dad was 94. He also enjoyed singing hymns, wood crafting and telling stories. He delighted in planting a large garden and sharing his delicious tomatoes.
Robert was pre-deceased by his parents and ten siblings. He is survived by his beloved wife, Eleanor, and their ten children – Sharon (Fred) Klopfenstein, James (Pamela) Schmidgall, Wilma (Ernest) Westerlund, Lois Young, Thomas (Lucy) Schmidgall, Mary (Lando Friesen) Schmidgall, Christine Layman, Benjamin (Joan Sherbina) Schmidgall, Lorene (Philip) Kenney and Susanne (Tim) Bailey. He is also survived by 17 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
Special thanks to his many devoted caregivers and the wonderful staff at Willamette Valley Hospice.
Visitation will be Wednesday, April 11, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Weddle Funeral Service, 1777 N. 3rd Avenue, Stayton. Private services will be held at the German Apostolic Christian Cemetery.