Schmakel passes away at 82

By Todd Moen, Editor

Walter Schmakel, a career military man and long-time advocate for area veterans through his work with American Legion 150 of Waconia and the Waconia VFW, passed away on July 31. Schmakel, who lived in Waconia, was 82.

Schmakel began serving in the U.S. Army in June 1948. He saw active duty in Vietnam from 1965 to 1966 and reached the rank of Sgt. Major by the time he retired from military service in 1969. In Waconia, Schmakel was the commander of the Waconia VFW from 1980 to 1981 and was the commander of American Legion 150 from 1991 to 1998. From 1985 until his death, he was the club manager of American Legion 150.

Schmakel was well respected in the American Legion and VFW and took part in many of their activities, such as helping with the annual Memorial Day program and participating in the Honor Guard for military funerals and parades.

"He was very devoted to the American Legion and VFW here in Waconia," said Larry Schmakel of Waconia, one of Walter’s six younger brothers. "He was also very devoted to his family. He kind of took over as the big guy after our dad passed."

Larry, who is a veteran himself, recalled how his older brother was there for him after he returned from Vietnam.

"He was here to help me get through the wartime experience I had," Larry said. "I’ll miss him big time."

Larry noted that Walter was a fairly serious guy at the Legion but once in a while, he would let loose and relax with the family when they would vacation up north.

Walter is survived by his wife, Dee, and daughters Debra (Roger) Thompson of Shakopee, Susan (Bruce) Veldey of Indio, Calif.

A funeral service was held at Trinity Lutheran Church in Waconia on Saturday, Aug. 4. Arrangements were with the Johnson Funeral Home in Waconia. To learn more, see Walter’s obituary, which appears on Page 9.