Lyle Schjodt will be remembered for his dedication to Blair Community Schools, Washington County and his community, according to friends and family.
Schjodt, who served on the BCS Board of Education for 24 years — 15 as president — and was a member of the Washington County Planning Commission, died June 26 from a long-term autoimmune liver disease. He was 70.
Serving his community was a lifetime passion for Schjodt, his daughter Andie Carlson said.
“He had a strong sense of civic duty. This was just what you do for your community, like the doing the right thing ideal,” she said. “He always felt that if he was able to serve, then he will be a servant. I think that just lasted throughout his lifetime.”
BCS board members recognized Schjodt on Monday during a previously scheduled special board meeting.
“It will be a great loss to the community,” board member Kari Loseke said. “I think his work will always be respected.”
Loseke, who succeeded Schjodt as board president, said Schjodt served with integrity and care.
“His sage advice, common sense, empathy and steady hand will be greatly missed,” she said.
Loseke knew Schjodt long before she was elected to the board. He was her 4-H club leader when she was just 10 years old and served as a mentor to her.
“He's always been someone I learned from,” she said.
When she made the decision to run for school board, Schjodt was one of her supporters, she said.
“When I first ran for school board, he came into my office and took out his wallet and gave me a $50 bill and he said, 'Go buy some campaign signs.' He was the type of person who was always paying it forward and helping,” she said. “The whole time I served on school board with him, he was always somebody you could call and ask his opinion and he always would give you a common sense answer and a compassionate answer.”
Former BCS Supt. Rex Pfeil said Schjodt's passing left him with “a heavy heart” knowing the commitment Schjodt had to the school district and its students.
“He had a knack for getting to the heart of an issue by calmly and tactfully questioning and posing ideas that helped others focus,” Pfeil said. “He jokingly told me once that it was his way of 'getting them to think like me.' His steadiness and calm nature created confidence and many times, it was his composed resolve that helped me keep a stable outlook and attitude in the face of uncertainty or turmoil.”
Current BCS Supt. Randy Gilson agreed.
“We will miss Lyle's expertise, compassion, patience and most of all his steady hand,” he said. “He has been our rock through the most difficult times, always knowing the right words to guide us. I will remember Lyle for the example he set and for the wisdom, support, friendship and love he provided all of us.”
As a member of the Washington County Planning Commission, Schjodt, a lifelong farmer, served as a voice for livestock producers.
“He wanted to make sure that there was opportunities for young people to raise livestock in Washington County without getting pushed out,” said Gary Lambrecht, who chairs the commission.
Lambrecht and Schjodt sat side by side at those monthly meetings for about seven years and he often helped Lambrecht.
“He always sat on my right side and he'd just give me little hints all the time,” Lambrecht said.
Lambrecht asked Schjodt if he would be interested in serving as chairman.
“You make the people laugh,” he told Lambrecht. “You keep doing it.”
Lambrecht noted the number of lives Schjodt touched during his tenure on the school board.
“He truly loved the community,” he said.
Schjodt often served as a voice of reason for the boards he served on.
“Lyle always seemed to have the right words to share when discussions became a little bit heated and for this I think is one of the reasons he was so greatly respected,” Loseke said. “He could speak off the cuff, it seemed, so easily.”
While he had his own opinion, Schjodt was compassionate in delivering his thoughts, Loseke said.
“Dad was a good leader because he listened respectfully to all opinions and he looked for commonalities to bring people together to make the best decision for the school or the county,” Carlson said. “He was always levelheaded. We always teased him, he always looked for a logical solution rather than making an emotional decision. That really defined how he served, how he fathered and how he farmed.”
Schjodt is survived by his wife, Kay; daughers, Ande (Schjodt) Carlson and son-in-law Kevin Carlson of Sioux Falls, S.D., and Michelle Schjodt and Bryon Schwanki of Minneapolis, Minn.; grandchildren, Mikayla, Zac and Kyan Carlson; mother, Rhoda Schjodt; and sisters, Sondra (Mark) Buell, KayLynne (Mark) Dickinson, Sharla (Paul) Gosker and Sharie (Doug) Jenson; many nieces and nephews, family and friends.