Rudy Schmidt & Time Capsules

October 27th, 2010

This evening, I arrived at church for mens’ chorus practice. I was surprised to see this sign on the door:

Rudy Schmidt died rather unexpectedly, but peacefully on Wednesday morning at his home….

One of the benefits of living in a small community is that I get to know people of all ages around here. Not just people my own age, or coworkers. A few years ago, I worked on a history project for our church’s centennial.

Back in the 1960s, Rudy was one of the people in charge of building our current church. So he was a person I was interested in visiting with.

Here he is, on the left, during the 1964 groundbreaking ceremony for the new building (the old one is visible in the background).

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I and a few others went to his home one time a few years ago and we had a wonderful evening. Rudy shared all sorts of stories with us — which I am happy to say I recorded. But moreover, Rudy was an avid photographer. There were some rare and brilliant color slides of the church being built in his collection. He let me borrow and scan some of them. Here are my two favorites:

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Back in 1965, there was a ceremony at the setting of the cornerstone of Tabor Church. The people at the time assembled some papers and memorabilia and put them in a time capsule. Rudy Schmidt sealed the capsule and it was placed in the spot for it behind the cornerstone. Here is a photo of that ceremony.

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44 years later, on the occasion of Tabor’s centennial, it was time to open the time capsule. The other building committee people, such as Jake Koehn, had passed away, so Rudy was the one to open it. He gave a few words in front of the large crowd, and mentioned that when he sealed it away, he smelled some smoke when he soldered it shut. Jake Koehn told him, “Don’t worry, nobody will ever see it again anyway” and they had a little laugh about it. Now he was going to open it up and see if anything survived.

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It all did — just a few minor burn marks. We enjoyed looking at all the items. Then the church placed some new items into the capsule. It was closed up again, to be opened in maybe 50 years.

With luck, I’ll still be around to see it opened again. Even if I’m not, maybe Jacob and Oliver will be able to. And so it seems very fitting that the last hands to touch that box for the next 50 years were Rudy Schmidt’s, when he placed it back in its spot on Oct. 12, 2008.

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  1. John Goerzen

    I should add: the text on the cornerstone placed back over the box reads “Dedicated to the glory of God.” Fitting not just for buildings, I think.

    Reply

  2. Mike Schmidt

    Hi John,

    Thanks so much for posting this. As one of Rudy’s grandsons, it’s really interesting to hear other perspectives on his life. Those photos are amazing! “Photographer” has never been the first word that comes to mind when I think of Rudy, but he seemed to have a great eye for these shots. Thanks again!

    Reply

    John Goerzen Reply:

    He sure did. He had many, many good ones. I scanned a large stack but still felt like I was leaving good ones on the table.I’m sure your family will have fun looking at them someday.

    Nice to hear from you, Mike.

    Reply

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