Constantine has named Ray Schmidtendorff its Citizen of the Year.
Schmidtendorff will be presented with the award following the 4th of July parade, at 12:30 p.m. at Riverview Park Pavilion.
“I was quite surprised when I got the call. I said I hadn’t done enough to deserve it,” he said. ”My wife and kids think it’s great.” Schmidtendorff said his daughters, Crystal and Shelly, were in New York as chaperones on a school trip when the news was announced. His daughter Valerie was home and passed the news around.
Schmidtendorff has served as township treasurer for 28 years and is retiring in November.
“I’ve enjoyed doing the treasurer’s job. I’ve met a lot of nice people,” he said. “People would come in to pay their taxes and sit and visit for 10-15 minutes. It’s the part I’ll miss the most.”
“Sometimes somebody would come in and be upset. I’d listen to them talk, and try to explain taxes, and almost everyone would leave satisfied.”
“The job’s had its up and downs over the years,” he said. ”I could write a book about all my experiences.”
Schmidtendorff said his job has changed a lot over the years, and he has gone from doing taxes by hand with an adding machine, to using a computer.
There are 2,120 properties in the Township and Village he said. He collects approximately $3,500,000 a year in taxes.
Schmidtendorff also has been on the “chain gang,” a football term for handling the first down measuring chain and down indicator box, for Constantine for 25 years.
Other things he has done including serving as township supervisor for four years, a Boy Scout commissioner and he was on the Township Fire Department.
He also serves as a representative for the township overseeing the township cemetery.
Schmidtendorff worked as a tool and die maker and was employed for 39 years at CTS in Elkhart, retiring in 1999.
His hobbies include golf and building furniture in a work shop in his barn.
“When people say they can’t find something to do, it always amazes me, because I always could,” he laughed.
“I was born in Three Rivers, where Dad was a share cropper. He would farm for a guy and give him half,” he said. “I moved to Constantine in high school and have enjoyed living here ever since.”
He is a 1955 graduate of Constantine High School, and wrote the class poem, “We enter to learn…We learn to serve,” which is modeled after the Longfellow poem, “Hiawatha.” Schmidtendorff said two granddaughters, Lindsey and Jordan, read his poem when they graduated.
Employees at the Land Resource Department, where taxes are printed, gave Schmidtendorff a gift for his retirement.
Source: Story contributed by Angie Birdsall.