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Sound of Music: Jack and Marian Schmitz 2015 Rustic Lore grand marshals

By LeAnn R. Ralph

GLENWOOD CITY —  Considering that this year’s theme for Rustic Lore Days is “The 57 Hills are Alive with The Sound of Music,” Jack and Marian Schmitz make the perfect selection for grand marshals.

Marian, who earned a degree in music from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, taught piano lessons in Glenwood City for more than 30 years.

Marian also has been a church organist for 38 years for Holy Cross Lutheran Church and for St. John the Baptist Church.

“I play at St. John’s Saturday nights,” noted Marian, who is member at Holy Cross.

She also is the choir director at Holy Cross and has played the accompaniment for many Glenwood City High School students during Solo and Ensemble competitions — not to mention that she has played the score for several high school musicals, including “The Sound of Music.”

Marian is not the only musical person in the Schmitz family, though.

Jack, a member at St. John’s, sings in the church choir. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus as well.

Marian said they are both active in their churches in other ways, too, such as working at the food stands during the St. Croix County Fair.

On top of all that, Marian worked as a substitute teacher for the Glenwood City school district for 34 years.

Being selected as grand marshals for Rustic Lore Days September 10 through September 13 was an honor, Jack and Marian said.

The Schmitzs were asked in February if they would consider serving as grand marshals.

“We had just come back from Illinois from visiting our son and his family, and there was a message on the machine. We were very surprised. But we were very honored to be chosen … it was a nice surprise,” Marian said.

“We certainly didn’t expect anything like that,” Jack said.

Serving as grand marshals for Rustic Lore will keep Jack and Marian busy all weekend.

“We have a list to do. It starts Thursday night with a concert at Wayne Peterson’s and a chicken dinner. Friday is the Hiawatha kickoff. There’s a car show on Saturday. We don’t have to do everything. But whatever we feel like doing. The Orchard is having a craft sale, and they have lunch out there,” Marian said.

“There a lot going on, that’s for sure,” Jack said.

“Saturday night is the coronation, and we have to go to that. And then the Queen’s Tea on Sunday. Another chicken dinner. And then the parade, of course,” Marian said.


Jack and Marian Schmitz have lived in Glenwood City since 1962, except for two years when they lived in Clear Lake.

“We are from the Barron-Almena area. We both graduated from Barron High School. We were married in 1961, and we moved here in ‘62,” Marian said.

Jack’s job with General Telephone brought them to Glenwood City.

“Two years later, I got hired by Northern States Power as a lineman, and I went to Amery for a couple of years to work with a crew up there. And then there was an opening here in Glenwood. I put in for that. And we’ve been here ever since. We were pretty lucky we didn’t have to move around much,” Jack said.

“It was like coming home after living in Clear Lake and him working in Amery. We had a lot of friends here. It has been good,” Marian said.

Jack noted that he retired from NSP (now known as Xcel Energy) in 1998.

He worked as what was known as a “trouble-man” for NSP and could be called out at all hours of the day or night to deal with electrical problems after thunderstorms or during snowstorms.

“I can’t say I really miss being called out at night,” Jack said.

Six youngsters

Jack and Marian have six children: Julie Berends; Janet Mortenson; Amy Root; Henry Schmitz; Peter Schmitz and Anthony Schmitz.

Julie lives in the Glenwood City area, and as many readers are probably aware, she and her husband own Berends Sanitation. Janet lives in Hermantown, Minnesota. Amy lives in Somerset. Henry lives in Maple Grove, Minnesota. Peter lives in LaCrosse. Tony lives in Batavia, Illinois.

All together, Jack and Marian have ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

“We have about 28 of us when we all get together,” Marian said. “Our oldest granddaughter just got engaged, so that makes another member of the family.”

Jack and Marian’s children were active in sports in high school.

“We were out at school a lot. We’d come home from work. I’d do piano lessons. We’d eat supper. And then we’d go to a game. We were pretty busy in those years,” Marian said.

Julie’s children also graduated from Glenwood City High School.

“So we had a lot of grandchildren’s activities at school, too,” Marian said.

Marian spends a certain amount of her time now quilting.

“I donate a lot of quilts, and I make quilts for family. Jack enjoys fishing. We keep busy,” she said.

When asked what he likes to fish for, Jack replied that he enjoys fishing for panfish.

“I used to do a lot of night fishing with waders for walleyes. But I’m getting too old for that now, stumbling around in the water,” Jack said with a smile.

“We don’t go anywhere in the winter. Jack likes to ice fish. You can’t ice fish in Arizona,” Marian said.

Jack and Marian Schmitz have a cabin on Lake Magnor out of Clayton.

“We enjoy going to the cabin. We will be there (Labor Day weekend),” Marian said.

Birthday party

Jack Schmitz will soon celebrate his 80th birthday.

“We had a birthday party for Jack a couple of weeks ago. He is going to be 80. It was family. My side of the family and his side of the family. There were 75 of us,” Marian said.

“We were at St. John’s in the basement. It was a big celebration. His birthday isn’t until October, but the kids get so involved with the grandkids’ activities they wanted to have it (during the summer). Of course it was the hottest day of the year, the 15th of August,” Marian said.

“I was glad we weren’t in a tent outside. We were in the church basement, so it was cooler down there,”  she said.


The house where Jack and Marian live on Syme Avenue is next to St. John’s school and church.

At one time, the house was located on the other side of the church, was owned by the parish and served as the church rectory.

The house was purchased for use as a rectory in 1912.

Church officials decided to move the house to its present location in the late 1960s, when a new residence was built to house the parish priest.

Jack and Marian have lived there since 1972.

Unfortunately, the house suffered some damage when it was moved, resulting in cracked plaster and holes in the ceiling, for example.

“Marian did a lot of work in the house,” Jack said, noting that some rooms needed to be Sheetrocked after the house had been moved.

Marian said she had painted many of the rooms and had wall-papered other rooms. She has since removed the wallpaper.

“You can still see the cracks. The house has scars (from being moved),” she said.

The Schmitzs also ended up paneling the living room to cover damage to the walls.

“The old house has had its ups and downs. But we like it. It’s home. And we’re going to stay here as long as we can,” Marian said.


Even though Jack and Marian plan to stay in their home on Syme Avenue as long as they can, Marian’s piano will most likely be staying there even longer.

“We moved that piano how many times? It’s heavy,” Jack said.

“And it won’t leave this house. The door we brought it in has been blocked off now. So we can’t get it out of the house. Whoever gets the house inherits the piano,” Marian said.

Marian has had the upright piano since she was a junior in high school.

“I’ve had it since 1955. We didn’t have it until we were married. It was at my parents’ house,” Marian said.

The piano is now situated in the dining room, but for many years, it was located in the little room off to the side of the dining room that now serves as the laundry room.

“That was my music room where I gave piano lessons,” Marian said.

The music room was at one time the priest’s office and had an entry door from outside. The piano was moved into the house through that door.

The door has since been removed and the space closed up.

A while back, the piano was moved into the dining room where it is now.

At one time, when the house was the rectory, couples were married in Jack and Marian’s dining room.

The house “has got quite a history,” Marian said.

And now, of course, the house will add one more piece to its history as the home of the 2015 Rustic Lore grand marshals under the theme of “The 57 Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Music.”