Serving his community
Gene Schimek is the recipient of the 2019 Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award.
If you do not know who Gene Schimek is, it is because he is more commonly known as Skip Schimek.
“I had a sister who was three years older than me,” Schimek says. “She started calling me Skip when I was a baby, and it stuck.”
Schimek grew up on a farm west of Easton, the son of Ed and Kate.
“We raised crops and had a dairy herd,” he comments.
It was while being raised in the Easton community he witnessed a giving attitude, according to Schimek.
“Growing up in the Easton area, I was part of a very “tight” community,” he explains. “It did not matter who you were or what your religion was, you did not think twice about helping someone who was in need.”
Schimek graduated from Wells-Easton High School in 1973.
“I went to vocational school in Austin for a year after my high school graduation,” he says. “Then I went to work at Detke-Morbac (the John Deere dealer in Blue Earth).”
And along the way he met and married Tricia Quam from Frost.
“I remember looking him up in the phone book and there were so many Schimeks,” Tricia says smiling. “We were married in 1981 and we raised three girls, Gwen, Carmen and Brenda.”
Once he started at John Deere he did not leave until it was time to retire.
“I started in the shop and then moved into the parts department,” he explains. “Eventually I started selling equipment and then I bought into the business.”
One of the things Schimek said he enjoyed was helping farmers get their planters going each spring.
“The planters were not as complex as they are now,” he comments. “But I always enjoyed going out to the farms and helping the farmers get things going.”
Tricia also came to work at Detke-Morbac.
“I worked in the banking industry for 35 years and then spent 10 years at Detke-Morbac,” she remarks.
Schimek owned Detke-Morbac until 2013 when he sold the business to Steve Kibble, owner of Mankato Implement.
“The technology really changed with the equipment over the years,” he explains. “And computers also changed the way things were done in the office.”
He says he took it easy for about a year after selling the business.
“It was time to do some traveling,” Skip says. “We went to New York and one of the things we did was see Niagara Falls.”
The press release announcing Schimek was receiving the Community Service Award mentions he was a past director of the Blue Earth Community Foundation Board. He has also been an active long-time member of St. Peter and Paul’s Catholic Church and the Lions Club.
But he says it his involvement with Interfaith Caregivers which trumps everything.
“I give rides to seniors and take them to their appointments,” Skip says. “I also do respite care.”
Tricia offers her belief of why Skip enjoys Interfaith Caregivers so much.
“I think he had a lot of customers who were older,” she mentions. “And he really enjoyed interacting with them, working with the farmers and getting to know them.”
Skip says he plans to stay active helping at the food shelf and working with Interfaith.
“It is kind of hit-and-miss with the food shelf,” he explains. “But if they get a truck in and need help, I try and assist them if I am available.”
He says he was surprised to find out he was receiving the award.
“There are so many people who are deserving of being recognized,” Tricia says.
“I am really humbled,” Skip adds. “I did not expect this.”
Schimek will be recognized at the Chamber’s annual banquet on Jan. 24 at Riverside Town and Country Club.